Blanton Museum of Art
Rifkin takes the reins
"No one who loves art wants to be an administrator. I am at the point in my life where I am going to be careful about the next job. What is important is the fit."
That's Dr. Ned Rifkin talking to The Washington Post's Jacqueline Trescott following the announcement of his resignation as undersecretary for art at the Smithsonian Institution in March 2008. One must presume then that the job of directing the Blanton Museum of Art has the fit of a Savile Row suit. On May 1, just a year after taking a self-described sabbatical from the administrative life, Rifkin is back in management mode, taking the reins from interim Director Ann Wilson, who got the assignment following Jessie Otto Hite's retirement after 15 years as director.
Perhaps the prospect of overseeing one museum instead of the six Rifkin supervised at the Smithsonian made the position more appealing to him. Or maybe the chance to get back in the classroom was part of the draw. (Come fall, he'll also be a professor of art and art history in the University of Texas College of Fine Arts.) Possibly he liked the idea of serving as special adviser to President William Powers Jr. on the visual arts for the 40 Acres and the UT collections. Or maybe he was simply eager to get back to the Lone Star State. (His first job was teaching art at UT-Arlington in the late Seventies, and he did a stint as director of the Menil Collection and Foundation in Houston, too.) Whatever did the trick, he's here, and here's hoping it's the fit he was looking for. We welcome him.