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Brent R. Benjamin, Barbara B. Taylor Director, Saint Louis Art Museum

Brent R. Benjamin was appointed director of the Saint Louis Art Museum in 1999 after serving 12 years in curatorial and administrative roles at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Under his leadership, the Museum raised more than $160 million in the largest capital campaign for a cultural institution in St. Louis to fund the David Chipperfield-designed East Building. In 2016, Brent became the first Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum as a result of a gift creating the largest endowed directorship of any art museum. In June, he was named president of the Association of Art Museums Directors.

Committed to elevating the Museum’s collection through strategic acquisitions, Brent has overseen the purchase of numerous works of art, including Bartolomeo Manfredi’s Apollo and Marsyas; Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Gateway, Tangier; Edgar Degas’s The Milliners; Andy Goldsworthy’s site-specific Stone Sea; and John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Charlotte Cram. He also has secured such major gifts as George Caleb Bingham’s Election Series; Jackson Pollock’s Number 3, 1950; and notable gifts of entire collections, including the 2017 gift of 81 contemporary works from New Jersey-based collector Ronald Maurice Ollie and his wife, Monique McRipley Ollie, that adds significant depth and breadth to the Museum’s holdings of works by African-American artists.

Brent received his undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College and holds a graduate degree in the History of Art from Williams College, where he was named the Robert Sterling Clark Fellow.  He attended the Qualifying Graduate Program in Architecture at Rice University and the Harvard University program for Art Museum Directors.

Christopher D.M. Atkins, Van Otterloo-Weatherbie Director of the Center for Netherlandish Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Christopher D.M. Atkins is the inaugural Van Otterloo-Weatherbie Director of the Center for Netherlandish Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Launching in 2020, the Center for Netherlandish Art (CNA) will be a leading center for scholarship on Netherlandish (Dutch and Flemish) art of the early modern period with the mission to share Netherlandish art with wide audiences in Boston and elsewhere, to stimulate multi-disciplinary research and object-based learning, to nurture future generations of scholars and curators in the field, and to expand public appreciation for Netherlandish art.

Prior to joining the MFA in 2019, Atkins was The Agnes and Jack Mulroney Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture before 1900 and Manager of Curatorial Digital Programs and Initiatives at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has authored the books The Signature Style of Frans Hals (Amsterdam University Press, 2012), and Wrath of the Gods (Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2015) as well as edited and co-directed the digital publication – The John G. Johnson Collection: a history and selected works (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2018).

Atkins’ extensive teaching experience includes both faculty positions and visiting professorships at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Delaware, The City University of New York and Northwestern University. After completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Kansas, he earned his master’s degree and doctorate at Rutgers University, during which he also studied at the Rijksuniversiteit Leiden in the Netherlands.

Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo, Art Collectors

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Belgian-born Rose-Marie and Dutch-born Eijk van Otterloo began to collect 17th-century Dutch paintings in the mid-1980s, later expanding their holdings to include Flemish works. Over time and with a discerning eye, they developed what is now recognized as one of the most important private collections in the world. It comprises all the main genres of 17th-century Dutch painting—landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, architectural views and scenes of everyday life, as well as portraits and tronies (head studies). The collection is known for its breadth as well as its extraordinary condition and quality. Works from the Van Otterloo collection have been seen in museum exhibitions around the world.

Susan and Matthew Weatherbie, Art Collectors

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Susan and Matthew Weatherbie began collecting art in the early 1980s, and bought their first 17th-century Dutch painting in 1985. Since then, their carefully curated collection of Dutch and Flemish art has grown to become one of the finest in private hands, including a number of important paintings by the era’s most prominent artists. Over many years, the Weatherbies have worked closely with scholars of Dutch art and museum professionals to expand their holdings, focusing on works that were both in good condition and represented high quality examples by important painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Their collection includes notable works by, among others, Osias Beert, Jacob van Ruisdael, Pieter Saenredam, Jan Steen, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens and Willem van de Velde the Younger.

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