Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts hopes to expand appeal under new director

 Brooke Davis Anderson is the new director of the museum at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Brooke Davis Anderson is the new director of the museum at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has a new museum director on the job.

The selection of Brooke Davis Anderson was announced last fall, and she has been on the job for about five weeks now.

Most recently, she was the director of a city-wide art festival in New Orleans, called Prospect. While based in New York, she oversaw Prospect3 and left midway through plans for Prospect4 (scheduled for this fall). She has no personal tie to Philadelphia, but called the job at PAFA a great opportunity.

“The collection is extraordinary,” she said. “If you’re interested in American Art, this is one of the best collections around.”

As both one of the largest art museums in the city and the oldest art school in the country, PAFA looks to bring young and diverse people into its doors. Anderson said she was attracted to the institution’s ambition to grow.

“I’m deeply committed to adult programming — programming that maybe transcends the idea of a lecture,” said Anderson. “We have an historic, landmark building that is underutilized. I want to activate the auditorium and maybe Cast Hall in ways we can’t imagine right now. I’m truly conceptualizing, but I have a history of developing partnerships with other institutions that are not always cultural or art institutions.”

As an arts scholar, Anderson has studied and written about so-called “outsider” artists. However, she says her largely administrative role at PAFA will not include much curatorial work.

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