Tweed director leaves post
Martin DeWitt, director of the Tweed Museum of Art (TMA) at the University of Minnesota Duluth, since 1990, is leaving his post to accept a position as the founding director for the art museum within the new Fine & Performing Arts Center at W...
Martin DeWitt, director of the Tweed Museum of Art (TMA) at the University of Minnesota Duluth, since 1990, is leaving his post to accept a position as the founding director for the art museum within the new Fine & Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University, outside of Asheville, in Cullowhee, N.C. DeWitt leaves his position as Tweed Museum of Art director effective Aug. 25.
"I am taking this opportunity to explore new ventures, new challenges in the museum profession, teaching, while remaining active in the studio," DeWitt said. "My wife, Sharon and I are very excited about the challenge and opportunity while we have very mixed emotions as we embark on this new venture together. Duluth is, indeed, an arts town, and I am proud to have had some role in the development process over the years. We'll, of course, stay connected to Duluth, the big lake and many friends and family members."
During DeWitt's tenure, initially as exhibits and collections curator for four years and director for thirteen years, he provided the leadership necessary to position Tweed as one of the foremost collecting fine arts institutions and learning laboratories in the Upper Midwest, gaining national recognition. DeWitt's community building was achieved by facilitating collaborations between diverse constituents, the academic and community at large, visual and performing arts, education and business sectors, while enhancing local, regional, national and international cultural collaborations. Tweed recently celebrated its milestone 50th anniversary, a year that featured several exhibitions, special events and fundraising initiatives. DeWitt served as the institution's fourth director in 53 years.
While DeWitt jokes that his biggest achievement at Tweed was making possible the installation of the baby changing tables in the Tweed men's room, additional career highlights include:
- Establishing the Museum for a New Century Endowment for collection management needs
- Re-establishing an emphasis on museum education and museum-school programs
- Formalizing collections policies, procedures, a five year acquisition plan and collections focus
- Upgrading TMA technology based collections management systems
- Securing hundreds of new additions to the TMA fine art collection through gifts and purchases
- Increasing access for collections research, guest scholars, and community education
- Securing more than $3 million in private and public dollars for exhibitions, collections and programs
- Organizing more than 150 exhibitions of contemporary and historical art, national and international tours.
- Assuring the TMA legacy through collections and exhibition publications program.
DeWitt is immediate past chair of the Minnesota Association of Museums, a 500 member professional development association. He was president of the Duluth Public Arts Commission and City of Duluth Municipal Arts Fund, serving these mayoral appointments from 1990-96 concurrent with his duties as Tweed director.
DeWitt has served on juror panels to include the Minnesota State Arts Board; Jerome and McKnight Foundations; and juror for many competitions including the 2000 Minnesota State Fair Visual Arts Painting Competition. He was a 1997 recipient of a University of Minnesota "Outstanding Service Award." DeWitt was a recent panelist for the National Association of State and Local Art Agencies-National Endowment for the Arts Symposium, "International Exchange Programs: States on the Global Stage." He serves on the American Association of Museums' Legislative Advocacy Committee and AMM Museum Assessment Team.
In addition to his arts administration duties, DeWitt has continued to teach painting, drawing, color theory and selected contemporary and art historical issues. His artwork in painting and mixed media constructions have been exhibited throughout the region, nationally and internationally.