Maxwell L. Anderson

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Maxwell L. Anderson
Born (1956-05-01) May 1, 1956 (age 61)
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation President of Souls Grown Deep Foundation, art historian, author, non-profit executive

Maxwell L. Anderson (born May 1, 1956)[1] is an American art historian, author, and non-profit executive, who currently serves as President of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

The son of Columbia University's Julian Clarence Levi Professor Quentin Anderson and grandson of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Maxwell Anderson, he was born in 1956 in New York City and raised there, attending Collegiate School (New York) and graduating from The Dalton School. He received an A.B. from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1977 with highest distinction in Art History, and A.M. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) degrees in the history of Art from Harvard University.[3]


Maxwell Anderson worked as a curatorial assistant at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and subsequently as assistant curator from 1981–87,[4] and became director of the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, Georgia (1987–1995).[5]

While in Atlanta he inaugurated a series of loan projects[6] highlighting unpublished treasures from the storerooms of some of the world’s leading museums in London, Paris, Rome, Mexico City, and elsewhere, looking for alternatives to buying antiquities from the illicit trade, expanded the Museum[7] with architect Michael Graves, and greatly enlarged the permanent collection.

As director of Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario (1995–1998),[8] where he led the creation of a national exhibition indemnity program, restituted five 17th-century Italian drawings[9] to the Berlin State Museums, which had been looted during the Second World War, initiated the illustrated web-based publication of the museum’s collections, made significant acquisitions of European and Canadian art, and organized numerous exhibitions including The Courtauld Collection, one of the Gallery's five best-attended exhibitions in its history.[10]

Anderson served as the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City (1998–2003).[11] While at the Whitney, he initiated the first multinational art purchase,[12] a work by Bill Viola today jointly owned by the Whitney Museum, the Pompidou, and the Tate, to cope with the large scale of many contemporary artworks in variable media, and created a seat for an artist on the Board of Trustees, with Chuck Close as its first incumbent. He established the Museum's first conservation program, introduced new media and architecture as collecting and programming areas, established an M.A. program in curatorial studies with Columbia University, and grew attendance to some 670,000 annually.

In 2003, Anderson resigned from the Whitney over disagreements with Board leadership about the Museum’s artistic direction,[13] and became a Leadership Fellow at the Yale School of Management's Chief Executive Leadership Program, and subsequently joined AEA Consulting of London and New York, a firm advising cultural institutions on planning and programming.

In 2006, he resumed his career as a museum director as the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana (2006-2011).[14] At the IMA, the museum added over $30 million to its endowment through gifts and pledges, opened a 100-acre sculpture park as well as a conservation science laboratory, acquired the mid-century modern Miller House and Garden estate, and more than doubled museum attendance to reach some 450,000 visitors annually.[15]

Anderson left Indianapolis at the end of 2011 to become the Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas (2012–2015).[16] His tenure at the Dallas Museum of Art included introducing free general admission,[17] a novel loyalty program attracting over 100,000 members,[18] a fifteen-year loan of a significant collection of Islamic art[19] and a program in paintings conservation.[20]

He served as a board member of the NewCities Foundation beginning in 2011, and stepped into the role of Executive Director in 2015. He relinquished his position in 2017 and rejoined the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

In 2016 Anderson was appointed president of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, an Atlanta-based collection of African American art from the Southeast.[21]

Souls Grown Deep Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to documenting, preserving, exhibiting and promoting the work of contemporary African American artists from the American South. A vital resource for this genre, the Foundation’s holdings are extensive, with some 1,200 works by more than 160 artists—among them Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Joe Minter, Purvis Young, Ronald Lockett, Mary T. Smith, Joe Light, and the quilt makers of Gee’s Bend. Ranging from large-scale assemblages to works on paper, the Foundation is particularly strong in works dating from the death of Martin Luther King to the end of the twentieth century.

Anderson introduced a multi-year program to transfer the majority of the Foundation’s works in its care to the permanent collections of leading American and international art museums, which has led to acquisitions by multiple institutions, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the High Museum of Art, the Ackland Art Museum, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

He has lectured and published widely on general issues of museum practice, especially on the ethical collecting of antiquities,[22] institutional transparency, free expression, artists’ rights, and uses of new technologies.[23] Anderson is a former president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and a board member of the National Committee for the History of Art, the National Center for Arts Research, and a trustee of the American Federation of Arts.[24] In 1990, he was decorated with the rank of Commendatore (Knight Commander) in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic[25] and in 2010 was awarded the French Republic's rank of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters).[26]


Anderson has long worked in the field of antiquities, serving as an assistant curator in the Department of Greek and Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1982–87,[27] and holding teaching positions in the field of Roman art history at the University of Rome II, Princeton University, and Emory University. At the Michael C. Carlos Museum he negotiated several long-term loans of previously unpublished archaeological material to underscore the value of provenance.[28]

In 2007, while director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, he recognized 1970 as a "bright line" when acquiring ancient art.[29] He advocated changes in the acquisitions policies of the Association of Art Museum Directors as founding chair of its Task Force on Archaeological Materials & Ancient Art beginning in 2003, culminating in its 2008 adoption of a bright line of 1970 as well.[30]

In December 2016 Oxford University Press published his book "Antiquities: What Everyone Needs to Know"[31]

New media[edit]

Anderson was one of the earliest proponents of using new media technologies to advance public interest in art.[32] As Liaison for Information Technology of the AAMD and a Member of the Advisory Council of the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP) he helped found the Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO) in 1997 and the Art Museum Network in 1999.[33] In 2008, he modeled museum transparency with the award-winning IMA Dashboard [34] and in 2009, he launched ArtBabble, a site for art museums worldwide to share video content.[35]


  1. ^ "The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on October 21, 2011 · Page A8". Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  2. ^ Kennedy, Randy (2016-06-23). "Former Dallas Museum Director to Join African-American Art Foundation". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  3. ^ Maxwell Anderson. "MLA Short Bio". Retrieved September 2, 2010. 
  4. ^ Michael Kimmelman (December 30, 1983). "Sorting Out Who Was Who in Rome". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 2, 2010. 
  5. ^ Edward Lewine (July 2, 1995). "The Newest Acquisitions Are Wands and Web Sites". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 2, 2010. 
  6. ^ Gill, David (2008-06-30). "Looting Matters: Archaeological Loans: Looking Back to EUMILOP". Looting Matters. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  7. ^ "Emory University - Michael Graves Architecture & Design". Michael Graves Architecture & Design. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  8. ^ Morris, Nomi. "Looted Art Controversy". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  9. ^ Morris, Nomi. "Looted Art Controversy". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  10. ^ "Art Gallery of Ontario's Picasso Exhibition a Blockbuster Success | AGO Art Gallery of Ontario". Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  11. ^ Rosenbaum, Lee. "Hip Is Out as Director Transforms a Museum". WSJ. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  12. ^ ""A Shared Vision; the Tate, Pompidou and Whitney Have Clubbed Together to Buy a Video Installation. It's a New Way to Play an Old Museum Game" by Renton, Andrew - The Evening Standard (London, England), November 19, 2002 | Online Research Library: Questia". Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  13. ^ Vogel, Carol (2003-05-13). "Director of the Whitney Resigns". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  14. ^ Sheets, Hilarie M. (2007-03-28). "Seeking a Lift From the Contemporary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  15. ^ "Maxwell Anderson Appointed as Dallas Museum of Art Director". Dallas Art News. 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  16. ^ Kepler, Carol Vogel; Compiled By Adam W. (2011-10-23). "Dallas Museum Lands New Director". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  17. ^ "Hits and Misses: Quick-hit editorials on the week's highs and lows". Dallas News. 2015-11-20. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  18. ^ "Dallas Museum of Art's DMA Friends Program Home to 100,000 Members | Dallas Museum of Art". Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  19. ^ Lawrence, Lee (2014-02-10). "Dallas Museum of Art Makes a Great Leap With the Keir Collection". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  20. ^ "Conservation Science Initiatives - Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums at the University of Texas at Dallas". Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  21. ^ Kennedy, Randy (2016-06-23). "Former Dallas Museum Director to Join African-American Art Foundation". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  22. ^ Pace, Eric (1983-12-30). "MET REINSTALLS XXIV NOBLE ROMANS". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  23. ^ "MLA Publications". 
  24. ^ "MLA Short Bio". 
  25. ^ web, Segretariato generale della Presidenza della Repubblica-Servizio sistemi informatici- reparto. "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana". Quirinale. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  26. ^ "France Honors Maxwell L. Anderson | French Culture". Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  27. ^ Pace, Eric (1983-12-30). "MET REINSTALLS XXIV NOBLE ROMANS". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  28. ^ Gill, David (2008-06-30). "Looting Matters: Archaeological Loans: Looking Back to EUMILOP". Looting Matters. Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  29. ^ "Indianapolis Museum of Art Declares Moratorium on Antiquities Acquisitions - Archaeological Institute of America". Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  30. ^ "Strengthened Guidelines on the Acquisition of Archaeological Material and Ancient Art Issued by Association of Art Museum Directors". Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  31. ^ "HOME". Antiquities. Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  32. ^ "How Fares the Wired Museum? Report on the 32nd Annual Conference of the Museum Computer Network (November 10-13, 2004, Minneapolis, Minnesota)". Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  33. ^ "Maxwell L. Anderson". Biographies. Library of Congress. 
  34. ^ "MW2008: Announcing the Best of the Web 2008". April 11, 2008. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2010. 
  35. ^ Kate Taylor (April 7, 2009). "ArtBabble Site Opens Window to World of Museums". The New York Times. Retrieved September 2, 2010. 

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