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MFA's department chair George Shackelford leaving for Kimbell

Posted by Geoff Edgers  July 7, 2011 06:55 PM

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tlumacki_degas1 mfa_.jpgGeorge T.M. Shackelford, one of just six curatorial department chairs at the Museum of Fine Arts, will leave the MFA later this year to become senior deputy director at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.

Shackelford, a native of Louisiana, has been at the MFA since 1996, one of director Malcolm Rogers’s chief hires after taking over the museum.

He leaves a much larger institution for a more influential position at the Kimbell, which is a vastly different museum. Opened in 1972, the Kimbell has fewer than 350 works, including signature pieces by Michelangelo, Leger, and Titian. But the Kimbell is also expanding. In 2013, it will open a second building designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop to allow most of its permanent collection to be shown.

“It’s one if the most beautiful museums in the world,” said Shackelford, 56, who was approached for the position by the Kimbell. “Boston is a great municipal museum built through now more than 150 years of local collecting and great benefaction from a hugely wide variety of people. The Kimbell is, by comparison, a very new museum and has never had an intention to be vast or all encompassing. It’s a jewel box of a museum, a treasure house for a carefully selected, curated collection.”

Shackelford will leave the MFA Dec. 2 and start at the Kimbell in January of 2012.

During his tenure at the MFA, Shackelford, chair of the Art of Europe department, oversaw the reinstallation of the museum’s European galleries and co-curated some of the MFA’s most popular and critically-acclaimed shows, including “Monet in the 20th Century,” “Van Gogh: Face to Face” and “Impressions of Light: The French Landscape from Corot to Monet.”

In October, the MFA opens “Degas and the Nude,” an exhibition Shackelford co-curated with Xavier Ray, the Musee d’Orsay’s curator of paintings.

“George has been a wonderful friend and colleague, a great scholar, and visionary curator and teacher,” said MFA director Malcolm Rogers, in a statement. “He leaves us at a high point in his career, after the opening of his ground breaking exhibition, “Degas and the Nude.”

(Photo by John Tlumacki)

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About Exhibitionist Geoff Edgers covers arts news for The Boston Globe..
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