Renowned director and curator appointed new leader of Frye

The Board of Trustees of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle announced today that the internationally respected museum director, curator and scholar Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker will become director of the museum, effective Oct. 1, 2009. She will assume leadership of the Frye from Midge Bowman, who is retiring after having served as director since 2004.

Birnie Danzker brings to the Frye her experience, vision and extraordinary expertise regarding the Frye’s Founding Collection and the art of the Munich Secession, an influential Modern movement committed to experimentation, diversity and international perspectives.

“The Frye is a living legacy of early, visionary patronage in Seattle,” Birnie Danzker said. “I am excited to be a part of this experimental, 21st century institution in a region brimming with artistic energy, innovation and global vision.”

Born in Brisbane, Australia, Birnie Danzker lived in the Pacific Northwest from 1977 to 1991, during which time she served as curator and then director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Birnie Danzker left Vancouver for Munich, where she directed the Museum Villa Stuck for 15 years.

An exceptional curator of modern and contemporary art, Birnie Danzker’s exhibitions have earned critical acclaim at the International Center of Photography in New York (1980), Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and P.S. 1 — MOMA (2002), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2005).

No stranger to Seattle or the Frye, in 2008 Birnie Danzker undertook extensive research on the history of the Frye’s Founding Collection and went on to curate The Munich Secession and America and Transatlantic: American Artists in Germany, which opened at the Frye in January 2009.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jo-Anne to the Frye at such an important time,” said David Buck, president of the Frye’s board of directors. “She brings a wealth of experience in museum management; her expertise with our founding collection and her broad curatorial accomplishments are a springboard for contemporary opportunities that look both east and west.”

Birnie Danzker also spent time in Seattle while preparing for her landmark touring exhibition Shanghai Modern, conducting research at the University of Washington and Seattle Art Museum about the artistic and personal relationship between Mark Tobey and his teacher of calligraphy in Seattle and Shanghai, Teng Baiye.

“I am grateful to the Board of Trustees, Midge Bowman, and the superb staff of the Frye,” Birnie Danzker said. “Their many innovations and accomplishments have positioned the museum to continue its arc of success in spite of challenging times.”