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The Barnes’ Derek Gillman Joining the Westphal Faculty

December 05, 2013

Derek GillmanFor the past seven years, Derek Gillman has been the executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation. During his tenure, he spearheaded the move of the Barnes to its critically acclaimed new home on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and oversaw the fundraising campaign for this stunning $150 million facility, as well as adding $50 million to the institution’s endowment. Annual attendance at the Barnes grew from 60,000 to 325,000 and membership expanded from 400 to 25,000. 

It was announced this week that Mr. Gillman will step down from the Barnes at year’s end, and we are excited to announce that he will join the College as Distinguished Visiting Professor in January. In this new capacity, Gillman, a respected art historian, will teach in both the Art History and Museum Leadership programs, and will contribute to the creation of a new Art History major and planning for exhibitions and operations of the Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel’s new 3,700 sq. ft. gallery in the URBN Annex. 

Gillman serves as President of the International Cultural Property Society and a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors.  Before joining the Barnes Foundation, he served as President and Director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), where he oversaw a significant expansion that entailed conversion of an early 20th century building into additional education, office and gallery space for the institution.  In 2005, PAFA became the first visual arts organization to receive a Presidential Medal of Arts.  He also served as Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Victoria - Australia’s largest encyclopedic art museum - and Keeper (Director) of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.  Gillman has been intimately involved with several other significant construction projects in addition to the work for the Barnes and PAFA, including an extension to the Sainsbury Centre undertaken by its original architect, Norman Foster, and a renovation of the National Gallery of Victoria and a new museum for its Australian collections.

"Derek Gillman has been an outstanding director of The Barnes Foundation," says Neil Rudenstine, chairman of the advisory board for ARTstor and former president of Harvard University (1991-2001). "When he arrived, there were hopes for a new building but no architect, and a good deal of opposition to the entire project. Now, there is an extraordinary building, a thriving education program, a large stream of visitors to the collection, and a bright future. Derek has led the Foundation throughout this entire period of development, and the results could not be more impressive. I know that Derek will be equally impressive in his new role at Drexel. He is an exceptional academic as well as a highly experienced leader."

Gillman has published and lectured on Chinese and early modern art, and cultural property. In 1975-6, he spent a year at the Beijing Languages Institute on a British Council scholarship before working as a specialist in Chinese art at Christie’s London.  He began his museum career in 1981 at the British Museum as a research assistant in the Department of Oriental Antiquities. Cambridge University Press published a revised edition of his book “The Idea of Cultural Heritage” in 2010. 

Gillman received an undergraduate degree in Chinese studies from Oxford University, and a Master of Laws degree from the University of East Anglia. Earlier this year, Gillman was named the 2013 Marina Kellen French Distinguished Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin.