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Thom Collins '88 Named Executive Director of Barnes Foundation

Thom Collins '88

New York Times/Getty Images

New York Times: Barnes Foundation Recruits Director From Miami

The Barnes Foundation — now in its third year in its gleaming new home in downtown Philadelphia after a contentious relocation — announced on Wednesday that it had chosen Thomas Collins, a longtime museum leader and curator, to become its new executive director and president after a search of almost a year.

Mr. Collins, known as Thom, has served for nearly five years as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, previously known as the Miami Art Museum and renamed in 2012 to recognize a multimillion-dollar gift of art and cash from the developer Jorge M. Pérez. Under Mr. Collins’s leadership, the museum constructed a new building designed by the firm Herzog & de Meuron that opened in December 2013 and attracted 300,000 visitors in its first year, far exceeding expectations.

Mr. Collins, 46, who also served for five years as director of the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, N.Y., said he was drawn to the Barnes not only because it was one of the places where he first learned about art while growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, but also because of the philosophy of its founder, Albert C. Barnes, a pharmaceutical tycoon who cast it more as a teaching institution than as a traditional museum.

“I’ve always thought of myself as an educator,” said Mr. Collins, who added that he felt that the Barnes had “really never been able to bridge to that great academic community in and around Philadelphia” — schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University and Swarthmore College, his undergraduate alma mater.


Joseph Neubauer, the chairman of the foundation’s board, said the Barnes, though founded in 1922, considered itself a young institution in its new home. “And now we’re into the adolescent or maybe young adult stage,” he said, adding that the search committee was attracted to the zeal with which Mr. Collins courted the highly varied audiences for art in Miami.

“It’s a kind of energy that we want to continue to have at the Barnes,” Mr. Neubauer said.

Read the full article at the New York Times. The announcement also has been covered at the Philadelphia Tribune,, New York Observer, Miami Heraldand San Francisco Chronicle, among other places.

Collins, a native of Media, Pa., graduated from Swarthmore in 1988 with a B.A. in art history, and went on to receive his Master's degree from Northwestern University.

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