Malcolm Rogers (curator)

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Malcolm Rogers CBE (born 1948) is a British-born, American curator and art museum head who has served as the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, since 1994. In this role he has brought both extensive popularity and controversy to the museum.

Rogers was educated at Oakham School, Magdalen College, and Christ Church, Oxford, earning a B.A. with first class honors and a D.Phil. in English. Prior to his position at the MFA, Boston, he worked his way up from librarian to Deputy Director at the National Portrait Gallery in London. An expert on portraiture, he has published extensively on the subject.


In 1995, Rogers opened new entrances of the museum to the public after access had been restricted in 1990.[1] This has included renovating and reopening both of the Museum’s historic entrances—Huntington Avenue on the Avenue of the Arts and the MFA’s State Street Corporation Fenway Entrance overlooking the Back Bay Fens. In addition, Rogers eliminated admission fees for children aged 17 and younger and instituted a series of free community days. Under his tenure, museum attendance has risen from record low to record high numbers, now around 1 million a year, and the museum's previously shaky finances have been stabilized to a considerable degree.[citation needed]

He has also sought to significantly expand the museum's collections by hiring key curators to drive the acquisition and donation of art process; the MFA's purchase of a piece by Degas is the most expensive undertaken by the museum. Acquisitions of English silver have made the MFA, Boston, the most significant holder of such artifacts in the Americas. Under Rogers's guidance, the MFA has also made significant acquisitions of contemporary pieces by Joseph Beuys, Bridget Riley, Robert Mangold and Jim Dine.

In 1999, Rogers helped launch the Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Nagoya, Japan, in order to "internationalize" the museum's brand. Under Rogers' tenure, the museum's Building the New MFA campaign, which was conceived of primarily to showcase the MFA's extraordinary collection of American Art, raised $504 million by its completion in September 2008. In all, the MFA received more than 25,000 contributions for the campaign, including 6,700 from first-time donors, indicating the degree to which Rogers' leadership has generated widely-based support for the MFA.

The campaign supported a transformational building expansion and renovation, designed by the architects Foster + Partners (London). The expansion features a new wing for the Art of the Americas collections and, adjacent to it, a glass-enclosed courtyard, which opened in November 2010.

Rogers was appointed a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts in Britain and the USA in 2004, and appointed Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 2007. In 2009, he received the award of Commendatore al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Commander of the Order to the Merit of the Italian Republic), one of the highest honors presented by the President of the Italian Republic. In 2010, he was named a knight-commander in the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Católica).[2] In 2009, Apollo Magazine chose Rogers as its Personality of the Year for his activities at the museum.[1]


Rogers has been criticized for his actions as the museum's director. In particular, critics have questioned his decision to grant the photographer Herb Ritts his first museum show, for firing two long-term curators, and his lending of 21 Monet paintings to the Bellagio hotel/casino complex in Las Vegas.[3] A number of art historians and staff at other art museums also criticized Rogers' overall organizational and management style for featuring centralized decision-making (rather than individual curators retaining control over their areas of concern) that focuses primarily on finances rather than other concerns.[4] Rogers, however, rejected these charges, saying that while he was rapidly restructuring the organization, it was in the museum's best interest and not to acquire more centralized power.[4]


  1. ^ a b Nicholson, Louise (24 November 2009). "Personality of the Year: Malcolm Rogers". Apollo Magazine. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Edgers, Geoff (12 September 2004). "Malcolm, X". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Dobrzynski, Judith (8 July 1999). "Boston Museum's Restructuring Sows Fear Among U.S. Curators". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 

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