Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Former RISD President Moves to Persian Gulf

Former President of the Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Mandle, has been appointed to lead the Qatar Museums Authority in the Persian Gulf.

Qatar is making an investment in education, arts and culture to create a complex of institutions for the 21st century, to speak of the cultural history of their region and its connections to the world. The Qatar Museum Authority aims to create curatorial programs within extraordinary architectural settings, to provide educational programs for Qatar and its region, and to develop platforms for international dialogue and cultural exchange.

As RISD’s president for the past 15 years, Roger Mandle led the school through a period of expansion that has included new educational programs, major facilities upgrades and the development of downtown studios and housing. His previous posts included deputy director and chief curator of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., from 1988 to 1993, and director of the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio from 1977 to 1988.

He has served as a U.S. Ambassador for the Arts, from 1996 to 2002; executive committee chairman for the American Federation of Arts; jury chairman for the National Design Awards; an adviser to the J. Paul Getty Trust’s Museum Management Institute; a member of the Museum Program Overview Panel at the National Endowment for the Arts; and a trustee of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Silk Road Project and the group CEOs for Cities, among other affiliations.

In his new role, Mandle will develop a strategic plan for the Qatar’s entire complex of museums, and implement that plan, institution by institution. His duties will range from administration and finance to the direction of the curators to the development of a comprehensive program of education and museum work force development.

He also will oversee the authority’s building projects including the expansion of the existing Qatar National Museum and the construction in Doha of a 484,000-square-foot Museum of Islamic Arts, now scheduled to open Nov. 22.

(The new museum – designed by I.M. Pei – will showcase the Quatar National Collection of Islamic Art, described by the national Tourism Authority as “a world-class collection of ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, woodwork, glass and other items made in countries ... from medieval Spain to Central Asia and India.”)

“In recent years, Qatar has made a truly historic investment in education, arts and culture,” Mandle said. “As much as any place in the world, this is where you sense new horizons opening for people on an almost daily basis. It is an honor to have been chosen to participate in these changes.”

His term as RISD president – the school’s longest since the early 20th century – is slated to end this June, with the current school year. John Maeda, now associate director of research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, has been chosen as Mandle’s successor.

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