Brent R. Benjamin came to the Art Museum in 1999 from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he had served for 12 years in curatorial and administrative roles, culminating in five years as deputy director for curatorial affairs. As the Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, he led the initiative to expand the Museum and raise $160 million in the largest capital campaign for a cultural institution in St. Louis.
He has overseen the purchase of numerous works of art for the Museum, including Bartolomeo Manfredi’s “Apollo and Marsyas;” Henry Ossawa Tanner’s “Gateway, Tangier;” and Edgar Degas’s “The Milliners;” and Andy Goldsworthy’s site-specific sculpture, Stone Sea. He also has secured major gifts such as George Caleb Bingham’s Election Series, Jackson Pollock’s “Number 3, 1950” and notable collections of Chinese bronzes and post-war German paintings and drawings. Most recently, he initiated a series of donations that included Carolyn Danforth’s late husband’s extraordinary collection of more than 300 objects made by American Indian tribes from the Northern and Southern Plains; a gift of more than 1,300 Japanese woodblock prints and related materials from Charles and Rosalyn Lowenhaupt; nearly 150 European paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints from the collection of Mark Weil and Phoebe Dent Weil; and the transformative bequest by C.C. Johnson Spink and Edith “Edie” Spink of 225 works of art, including important American paintings and more than 200 works of Asian art.
Brent Benjamin 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.
Notable media appearances and mentions
- Taylors give $21 million to endow St. Louis Art Museum’s leadership (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 11, 2016)
- St. Louis Art Museum receives $50 million gift from prominent local family (St. Louis Public Radio, Nov. 4, 2014)
- Couple donates 225 works worth at least $50 million to St. Louis Art Museum (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov. 4, 2014)
- A ‘quiet and reserved’ new wing for Saint Louis Art Museum (The Art Newspaper, June 2013)
- Saint Louis gets contemporary (Art in America, June 26, 2013)
- Expansion reflects personality of director Brent Benjamin (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 23, 2013)
- As Max Beckmann gets a New York spotlight, St. Louis shares in the glow (The New York Times, Aug. 12, 2003)