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September 17, 2009

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Detroit Institute of Arts director to speak at the Harn Museum of Art Sept. 30

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Elitist and stuffy are two of the terms that are sometimes used to describe art museums. At the Harn Museum of Art at 6 p.m. Sept. 30, Graham Beal will share how the Detroit Institute of Arts is making positive strides in eliminating this perception. Titled “What’s the Big Idea? A Museum for the People,” the Harn Eminent Scholar lecture, organized by the University of Florida’s School of Art and Art History, will address the DIA’s innovative approaches to make collections relevant and accessible to visitors.

During his decade-long tenure as director, president and CEO of the DIA, Beal has overseen a comprehensive renovation and the construction of a 58,000-square-foot addition. He also directed the reinstallation of more than 5,000 works of art.

It was during the reinstallation that the DIA broke with traditional exhibition strategies of grouping works by artistic periods or styles and began to organize using “Big Ideas.” “The “Grand Tour of Italy,” “Images of Spiritual Power,” and other “Big Ideas” connect with visitors and encourage personal identification with works of art.

“When I visited the newly renovated and reinstalled Detroit Institute of Arts last year, I was fascinated and impressed by their creative and varied approaches to engaging with different types of visitors,” said Harn Museum of Art Director Rebecca Nagy. “All of us in the museum field have a lot to learn from the experiences of Graham Beal and the DIA.”

Beal has been a leader in the art world for several years. Prior to holding his current position, Beal served as director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1996 to 1999. He has also served as the director of the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Neb., chief curator at the Walker Art Center in Minn., and chief curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From 2002 to 2005, Beal was a member of the Board of Trustees and the chair of the art issues committee of the Association of Art Museum Directors. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Association of Museums from 2004 to 2007.

This lecture is organized by the University of Florida School of Art and Art History through the Harn Eminent Scholar Endowment and co-sponsored by the Harn Museum of Art.

Admission is free. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
The Harn Museum of Art is an integral part of the University of Florida. The museum’s permanent collection holds nearly 7,000 works, including African, Asian, modern and contemporary art and photography. The museum enhances the university’s activities and serves a culturally diverse audience through the exhibition of works of art and educational programming. Admission is free. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Parking is free on weekends. The Camellia Court Café is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Harn Museum of Art is located at Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road at the UF Cultural Plaza. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit

Media contact :
Tami Wroath, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Harn Museum of Art
352.392.9826 x116

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