Michael Brand Director of Art Gallery of NSW
Australian Dr Michael Brand, consulting director of the Aga Khan
Museum currently under construction in Toronto and the former
director of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, was been
appointed director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) in
“Michael will bring his formidable curatorial and management skills
to bear on the Art Gallery of NSW’s already impressive reputation
for artistic excellence and acquisition,” NSW Premier Barry
“The appointment will provide the Gallery with opportunities to
build upon NSW’s strong artistic tradition, innovative approach to
art and culture and my Government’s goal of making NSW Australia’s
premier destination for art, culture and innovation.”
The President of the Board of Trustees of the AGNSW, Mr Steven Lowy
AM, said he was delighted the Gallery had been able to recruit such
an outstanding director whose scholarship and reputation was well
“Dr Brand has held important leadership roles at some of the world’s
most respected cultural institutions,” he said.
“That the Art Gallery of NSW will now benefit from his extensive
scholarly expertise, his international reputation and his global
networks is cause for celebration.
“On behalf of the Gallery and its friends and supporters, we welcome
Michael and his family to Sydney and look forward to working with
him to take the Gallery into a new era.”
Dr Brand said he was very excited about his new role.
“The Board of Trustees presented me with a highly compelling vision
of the Gallery’s future,” he said.
“While they are rightly focused on serving their primary audience
and promoting Australian art, they are also resolutely international
in their approach to art and culture.
“I have been highly impressed by the seriousness with which the
Board of Trustees and the Government have been developing a strategy
to guide the Gallery’s future and the Gallery is clearly about to
enter an exciting phase of its history. Based in one of the world’s
most dynamic cities, the Gallery has a great opportunity to further
build on its international partnerships that will bring
extraordinary works of art to Australia.”
Dr Brand will be the ninth director of the AGNSW in its 120-year
history and will assume his new role mid-year after finalising his
consultancy with the Aga Khan Museum, which is currently
constructing a $150 million building designed by the Japanese
architect Fumihiko Maki. Dr Brand has led the development of this
new institution, which will work closely with other agencies of the
Paris-based Aga Khan development network and will become the only
museum in North America devoted to the arts of Islamic
Dr Brand previously served as director of the J. Paul Getty Museum
in Los Angeles from 2005 to 2010. During this time his priorities
and achievements included resolving claims for the restitution of
antiquities made by the governments of Italy and Greece, and
bringing contemporary and non-Western art into the Museum’s
He was the first director of the Getty Museum to lead the
institution at both the Getty Center and the Getty Villa sites and
in 2006 created the Museum’s new Center for Photographs. Under his
leadership, major acquisitions were made in each of the Museum’s six
collecting areas, including masterpieces by artists such as Claude
Lorrain and Paul Gauguin. He also staged significant exhibitions
such as Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai (2007);
Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture (2008) and
Drawings by Rembrandt and his Pupils (2009).
Dr Brand has a formidable international reputation and currently
serves on the Visiting Committee of the Harvard Art Museum and the
International Advisory Board of the State Hermitage Museum in St
Petersburg. He is a past member of the Governing Board of the
Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
Earlier appointments included serving as director of the Virginia
Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, where he was the driving force
behind a $125 million capital campaign to fund the largest expansion
in the Museum’s history.
From 1996 to 2000, Dr Brand was Assistant Director, Curatorial and
Collection Development, at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane,
where he led the development of the Gallery’s world-renowned
collection of Asia-Pacific art.
From 1988 to 1996 he was curator of Asian art at the National
Gallery of Australia in Canberra and was co-director of the
Smithsonian Institution Mughal Garden Project in Lahore, Pakistan
from 1988 to 1993.
Dr Brand was born in Australia and earned his BA (Honours) from the
Australian National University and his MA and PhD in art history
from Harvard University.
Mr Lowy said that immediately following the announcement of the
retirement of the Gallery’s long-serving and distinguished director
Edmund Capon in August last year, the Trustees had embarked on a
thorough global search to recruit a successor.
“That search began with extensive consultation with a broad spectrum
of gallery stakeholders which helped identify the qualities an ideal
candidate should possess,” he said.
“I’m pleased to say that Michael exemplifies those qualities in
Mr Lowy thanked the Board of Trustees for its dedication and
diligence during the recruitment process.
He also acknowledged the generous support of the Director of the
Tate in London, Sir Nicholas Serota, whose guidance and advice to
Trustees was invaluable.