Architect Norman Foster, left, Malcolm Rogers, center, director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Spencer de Grey, partner-in-charge of Foster and Partners, pose with a model of a new expanded MFA design.

Credit: (AP Photo/Angela Rowlings)

Retiring MFA Director Malcolm Rogers On The Search For Beauty And Meaning

February 28, 2014

Museum of Fine Arts Director Malcolm Rogers announced he would retire on Thursday. He talked to Morning Edition's Bob Seay about his tenure at the musueum.

On his biggest accomplishment at the MFA:

You can't take on a big job unless you're determined to change things. And what I really wanted to do above all was change the public perception that the Museum of Fine Arts is an elite institution, and present it as an excellent institution that was a resource for everyone in the community. And I really believe we truly opened the doors and people see us as a friendly, welcoming place of cultural enrichment.

On changes at the MFA during his tenure:

I wanted people to find beauty in things they never looked at in that way before, like cars or guitars or yachts. These are beautiful things made by artists and craftsmen.

And last of all, we were ahead of the game. As you say, now there have been Ralph Lauren's cars in the Louvre in Paris, or Herb Ritts in the Getty Museum on the West Coast, so we've changed perception.

On Boston's cultural influence:

It's one of the greatest, greatest arts cities in the world. A small city in a way, but enormous in its impact, when you think of the cultural resources — the MFA, the Gardner, the ICA, the Museum of Science and the wealth of museums in Cambridge, the symphony, the ballet, the Lyric Opera — I could go on. It's an extraordinary concentration in really quite a small city that's intensely livable and also very historic.

On the MFA's use of technology:

Technology is vital, both within the museum and also in terms of our global, our international impact. All around the world, people can now see our collection, our exhibitions on the Internet. I also think technology also presents a wonderful way of communicating with the museum. I don't know whether you've seen it yet, but we have a wonderful impressionist exhibition at the moment which was crowdsourced. We asked the public what they would like to see in an exhibition about impressionism. The results were absolutely fascinating.

On MFA exhibitions:

In a way, I'm in love with the variety of what we present in the individual shows, and I love mixing the cocktail of exhibitions.

On the position of MFA director:

I always thought it would be challenging. I always thought of the museum, and therefore the job, was a leadership role in our community, and that is how it was and how it remains. I'm so proud to have been helping to steer it in that respect.

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