MIA Appoints New Head of Decorative Arts

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Minneapolis, MN, May 18, 2009 – The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) today announced the appointment of Eike D. Schmidt as the new James Ford Bell Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture and head of the Department of Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture. In this capacity Schmidt will lead one of the MIA’s largest and most diverse curatorial departments, with more than 18,000 works in various mediums from America and Europe, from the Middle Ages to the present. Schmidt comes to the museum from Sotheby’s, London, where he has worked as the Director of the European Sculpture and Works of Art Department. Prior to this post, he was with the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, as Associate Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts. Schmidt also worked at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., as a research associate and a research curator in the Department of Sculpture, and at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, Italy. He will assume his position with the MIA later in the year.

Kaywin Feldman, Director and President of the MIA, said, “We are delighted that Eike will be joining our impressive curatorial team at the MIA.” In less than a year, Feldman has hired five curators, including Schmidt, to lead the museum’s curatorial departments. She successfully courted highly respected specialists from major institutions around the world as part of her larger strategic plan designed to enhance the reputation and visibility of the venerable institution. Additional curatorial hires include Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, Ph.D., curator of African art (formerly at the Afrika Museum, Berg-en-Dal, Netherlands); Elizabeth Armstrong, curator of contemporary art (formerly at the Orange County Museum of Art); David Little, Ph.D., curator of photography (formerly at the Whitney Museum of American Art); and Tom Rassieur, curator of prints and drawings (formerly at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).

“Following an extensive international search, it was clear to us that Eike is an exceptional curator due to his engaging scholarship, formidable connoisseurship and astonishing knowledge of the field,” Feldman said. “He brings international contacts, an impressive track record of exhibitions, and an expansive knowledge of European and American sculpture and decorative arts.”

At Sotheby’s, Schmidt supervised a staff of six at the New Bond Street office in London and oversaw Sotheby’s regional offices for sculpture and works of art on the European continent. While at the J. Paul Getty Museum he co-curated exhibitions including “Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from the Renaissance to the Revolution,” (with the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, and the Musée du Louvre); “The Getty Commodus: Ancient Portraits and Modern Copies;” and “The Color of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present.”

A native of Germany, Schmidt received his Ph.D. from Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg. His dissertation was titled The Medici’s Collection of Ivory Sculptures in the 16th and 17th Centuries. He received a fellowship from the Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence, Italy (1994-95), and was an Erasmus Fellow at the Università degli studi, Bologna, from 1991- 92. In 1997 he was awarded the Premio Nicoletta Quinto by the Foundation Galileo Galilei, in Pisa, for the best contribution to the humanities in Italy by an author younger than 30. Fluent in English, German, and Italian, he has published in several languages and has lectured extensively throughout Europe and the U.S.

“I am thrilled to join the dynamic staff at the Minneapolis Institute of Art,” Schmidt said. “The Twin Cities has an international reputation for strong support of the arts and I look forward to being a part of this remarkable community. The current art market provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to add significant works of art to the museum’s already strong holdings. I look forward to working with the museum trustees and passionate local collectors to bring even more great art to the Twin Cities.”