Derek Gillman, Barnes director who led move to Parkway, is stepping down

The head of the Barnes Foundation, Derek Gillman, will step down as executive director at the end of the year, to become part of the faculty at Drexel University.

When Gillman became director of the Barnes Foundation in 2006, the controversial move from Lower Merion to the Parkway in Philadelphia was more or less a done deal. The major legal challenges regarding the will and legacy of founder Albert Barnes had been settled. His job was to carry it out.

“The primary focus to get the building up, to move the collection, to get it established, to professionalize it,” said Gillman. “Not just the building. It was taking the institution that was on the cusp — it had the opportunity to become something that truly realized the vision. The building was very much a part of it.”

Gillman raised the $150 million needed to build the new gallery and education center on the Parkway, as well as another $50 million for the foundation’s endowment.

The future director, who has not yet been named, should see to the expansion of the foundation’s programming and educational programs, Gillman said Tuesday.

“I’m going to quote Churchill: It really feels like the end of the beginning now,” said Gillman, a native of southern England.

After wrapping up his seven-year tenure at the Barnes, Gillman will join the faculty of Westphal College,  Drexel University’s ambitiously expanding college media and design. He will teach arts administration, art history, and Chinese studies, which was the focus of his own studies at Oxford.

“As a Brit, that’s the great attraction about America. America and Americans are always moving forward. Thiers is always the next step, the next frontier,” said Gillman. “I think this is happening for Drexel.”

The Barnes Foundation’s Chief Financial Officer Margaret Zminda, will act as interim director. She came to the Barnes in 2007 from the Philadelphia Orchestra, where she was also CFO.

“There’s an organizational focus we need to have to run the business as efficiently as possible. There is a financial focus to see that the business is sustainable,” said Zminda. “The third thing is really around expansion and honing our programming. We want the Barnes to be a place people come back to again and again.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.