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DMA Adds Louvre Curator


by Stephen Becker 18 Jun 2009

The Dallas Museum of Art has hired Olivier Meslay, a curator for 16 years at the Louvre, to head up its department of European and American Art. For the last three years, Meslay has been the chief curator of Louvre Lens, a satellite location in northern France. Meslay will hold the joint positions of Senior […]

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oliviermeslayphotodmaThe Dallas Museum of Art has hired Olivier Meslay, a curator for 16 years at the Louvre, to head up its department of European and American Art. For the last three years, Meslay has been the chief curator of Louvre Lens, a satellite location in northern France.

Meslay will hold the joint positions of Senior Curator of European and American Art and the Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art. He’ll begin work in August.  (If that doesn’t give him a warm welcome to Dallas, I’m not sure what will.)

Continue reading for the full news release from the DMA:

DALLAS, TX, June 18, 2009- Olivier Meslay, a noted and longtime curator from the Musée du Louvre, has been appointed to lead the Dallas Museum of Art’s departments of European and American art, announced Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA. During his 16-year tenure at the Louvre, Meslay has held a number of senior positions, including Curator of British, American and Spanish painting. Since 2006, he has served as Chief Curator of Louvre Lens, a satellite of the Louvre being developed in northern France.

An accomplished curator, scholar and professor, Meslay will hold a joint position at the DMA as Senior Curator of European and American Art and the Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art. He will begin work in Dallas in August 2009.

“Olivier’s experience as a scholar and curator at the Louvre, his innovative spirit, and his dynamic leadership will make him an extraordinary asset to the Museum and the audiences we serve. A recognized expert in European and American art, he brings an impressive breadth of knowledge and an important international perspective to our team,” said Pitman.

In his new role at the DMA, Meslay will manage the Museum’s extensive collections of European and American art, comprised of nearly 4,000 works including paintings, sculptures and works on paper. He will oversee exhibitions, programs and staff for both departments, working collaboratively with the divisions of Education, Exhibitions and Publications, Collections Management and Marketing. Meslay will also serve as an advocate of the DMA locally, nationally, and internationally, and will act as the primary curatorial representative of FRAME (French Regional and American Museum Exchange), a collaborative organization partnering twelve regional American museums with twelve regional French museums.

“The Dallas Museum of Art is a remarkable institution with an outstanding international reputation,” said Meslay. “I’ve long been inspired by collaborations with my U.S.-based colleagues, and I greatly look forward to the opportunities of this joint role in Dallas.”

Meslay has organized numerous exhibitions over the course of his twenty-year career and is one of France’s leading specialists for American and English art. Before his current appointment as Chief Curator of Louvre Lens, Meslay served as the curator of the innovative “Louvre Atlanta” project, a three-year collaboration with the High Museum of Art that presented in Atlanta a total of seven exhibitions drawn from the Louvre’s collections and attracted more than one million visitors. From 1993 through 2006, he was the Louvre’s curator in charge of British, American and Spanish paintings and organized such exhibitions as William Hogarth (2006-2007), American Artists and the Louvre (2006), L’art anglais dans les collections de l’Institut (2004), La collection de Sir Edmund Davis (1999) and Georges Lacombe, peintures et sculptures (1991). Meslay also led the development of two publicly accessible databases cataloguing the American and British art collections in French museums, including a total of approximately 5,000 objects.

Meslay is a graduate of the Institut National du Patrimoine (1992-1993), the French State School for Curators. He received an MA from the Ecole du Louvre in 1983, having previously received an MA from the Sorbonne in 1982, where he also earned his BA in 1981. Meslay was a recipient of a fellowship at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., from 2000 until 2001. From 1997 to 2006, he was also a professor at the Ecole du Louvre.

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  • Sarah

    Good for the DMA, obviously, but one has to wonder: who did this guy piss off? How does one go from the LOUVRE to the DMA??? Things that make you go hmmm…

  • Jonathan

    Sarah- the more relevent question is whether any American with similar credentials could land such a position at the Louvre? The Minneapolis, Frick, and host of other recent curatorship placements are going to foreigners, while in the new hires’ native countries in western Europe there are grossly protectionist policies to keep only those positions for native countrymen. Give me your tired, your poor?
    We are maintaining the tired and poor here, with little stimulous being applied to achieve the same credentials locally. I buy American right down to the tires, I suggest our institutions do the same.