Nannette V. Maciejunes, Executive Director and CEO of the Columbus Museum of Art, to retire in 2022

Museum board to conduct national search

Photo by Len Prince

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nannette V. Maciejunes, the leader of the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) for 20 years, has announced that she will retire at the end of 2022. A dynamic community partner and active scholar, Maciejunes has served as executive director and CEO of CMA since 2003. Maciejunes joined CMA in 1984 as a curatorial research assistant. Prior to becoming director, she was acting director for one year and chief curator for 10 years.

“Serving as the executive director of the Columbus Museum of Art for the past 20 years has been the dream of a lifetime for me. I have worked throughout my career to make the Museum a place that serves our whole community, that cocreates with others and where visitors feel a sense of belonging,” said Maciejunes. “I have been so fortunate to be part of an incredible Museum family and work alongside a talented group of museum professionals, volunteers and community leaders over the years. I thank them profoundly for their support and all that we have accomplished together to take the Museum into the next century.”

Maciejunes will continue in her role until a new director is in place. The CMA Board of Trustees has retained Naree Viner of Koya Leadership Partners, a leading executive search and strategic consulting firm dedicated to leading mission-driven searches, to identify the Museum’s next director. The search committee is led by CMA trustee Pete Scantland. The committee will seek input from a broad range of leaders and members of the community to aid in this important decision.

“The Columbus Museum of Art has flourished under Nannette’s visionary and ambitious stewardship, and it is difficult to think of the Museum without her,” said CMA board president Stephen S. Wittmann. “Moving into the future, we look forward to building on the Museum’s many achievements and successes to serve the incredible people of Columbus, who are the inspiration and motivation behind all of our efforts.”

During Maciejunes’ tenure as executive director, CMA successfully completed the Art Matters Campaign, the largest endowment and capital campaign in the Museum’s history, which raised nearly $95 million in part to renovate existing facilities and build a new 50,000-square-foot wing, effectively doubling the size of the Museum. As part of the multiphase campaign, CMA opened the innovative JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity in 2011, which demonstrated the Museum’s leadership in the field of the visitor-centered museum experience and solidified its commitment to creativity and critical thinking. In 2013 CMA was awarded the National Medal, the Nation’s highest honor for museums, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In 2015 the Museum unveiled the new Margaret M. Walter Wing to regional and national acclaim. In addition to being hailed as having a “distinctive presence” by the Wall Street Journal, the Walter Wing garnered numerous awards, including the 2016 James B. Recchie Design Award from the Columbus Landmarks Foundation.

“No other arts leader has had such a remarkable impact on our community,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, president and CEO of the Greater Columbus Arts Council. “Nannette’s steadfast advocacy over more than a decade helped us secure a critical new funding stream to benefit central Ohio artists and arts organizations. Her determination, along with her deep knowledge of the visual arts and passion for creating a museum experience welcoming to all, have made her one of the great arts leaders for our community.”

In January 2019 the Pizzuti Collection was gifted to CMA, creating the Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, a second location for the Museum. And in the fall of 2021 CMA opened The Shackelford Family George Bellows Center, dedicated to fostering and incubating exhibitions, publications and scholarly research and presenting public programs related to the legendary American artist, a Columbus native, and his contemporaries.

Most recently, the Museum secured promised gifts of art from the Scantland Collection, one of the most dynamic young private collections of contemporary visual art in North America. One of a growing list of significant gifts to CMA, the Scantland Collection will ensure that CMA’s strategic plans to collect the art of the present will benefit the community for generations to come.

Recent signature projects carried out under Maciejunes’ leadership are the acclaimed exhibitions I, Too, Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100 (2018), which celebrated the 100th anniversary of a cultural movement that resonated well beyond Harlem; and Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989 (2020), a groundbreaking survey of more than 200 works of art and related visual materials that explored the profound impact of the LGBTQ Civil-Rights movement on the art world.

In the fall of 2018 CMA debuted Wonder School, a laboratory preschool collaboration with Columbus State Community College (CSCC). This experiment, the first of its kind and a national model for other museums, was built on a commitment that CMA would be an active partner in improving the quality of early childhood education in Central Ohio by ensuring that wonder, imagination and creativity be at the center of a child’s learning. The learners at Wonder School are not just the children, but also CSCC early childhood practicum students who are gaining the tools to foster curiosity and creativity and also engaging in a pedagogy of anti-racist teaching.

Maciejunes also spearheaded the Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Legacy Project, which seeks to preserve and present the work of Columbus native and MacArthur Award recipient Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson (1940-2015), who entrusted her estate to the Museum. The Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Legacy Project consists of a variety of initiatives, including a major CMA exhibition with accompanying publication of the same title, Raggin On: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s Home and Journals; documentation, preservation and presentation of the artist’s work for current and future generations; and renovation of her home and studio to house the Aminah Robinson Residency programs for African American artists and writers.

Another hallmark of Maciejunes’ tenure is the establishment of the Museum’s first endowed named positions. These include the William and Sarah Ross Curator of Photography; the Pizzuti Family Curator of Contemporary Art; the Scantland Family Executive Deputy Director for Learning, Experience and Engagement; the Lichtenstein Foundation Curatorial Fellowship for Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts; and the Crane McKee Associate Director of Learning Innovation.

Maciejunes’ area of scholarly expertise is early 20th-century American art. As a curator, she organized a number of noted exhibitions and has published widely in her field. She was instrumental in CMA’s acquisition of the Photo League Collection and the Philip J. and Suzanne Schiller Collection of American Social Commentary Art, 1930-1970, considered the most important collection of its kind. Maciejunes currently serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the Arts Administration, Education and Policy Program at The Ohio State University.

In 2006 Maciejunes received the Ohio Governor’s Award for the Arts in the category of Arts Administration and the Spirit of Volunteerism Award from South Side Settlement House. In 2009 she was named a YWCA Woman of Achievement, and in 2019 Equality Ohio named her the Honored Ally of the year. Maciejunes has served on numerous non-profit boards and is highly active in the Columbus community.

Maciejunes attended Stanford University’s Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders in 2006 and the Getty’s Leadership Institute for Museum Management in 1999. She graduated summa cum laude from Denison University, with a bachelor’s degree in history of art and a Master of Arts, and she studied towards a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. She has received honorary doctorates from Columbus College of Art and Design and Franklin University.