Correction to This Article
A Dec. 1 Style article on the Corcoran Gallery of Art and its College of Art and Design incorrectly reported that the institution had a deficit of between $1.5 million and $1.8 million in the current year. The deficit was for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

British Art Scholar Named Director Of Corcoran Gallery

Paul Greenhalgh, newly appointed Corcoran director, at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where he is president. He is standing in front of a print by American artist John Baldessari on which are scrawled the words:
Paul Greenhalgh, newly appointed Corcoran director, at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where he is president. He is standing in front of a print by American artist John Baldessari on which are scrawled the words: "I will not make any more boring art." (Corcoran Gallery Of Art)
By Jacqueline Trescott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 1, 2005

Paul Greenhalgh, a British scholar who heads an art school in Nova Scotia, will take over as director and president of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and its College of Art and Design next year.

The appointment is part of a wrenching overhaul at the 136-year-old Corcoran after five years of bold plans and occasional turmoil.

Greenhalgh is best known in Washington as chief organizer of the highly successful Art Nouveau exhibition, which stopped at the National Gallery of Art in 2000.

He succeeds David C. Levy, the Corcoran's director for 14 years. Levy resigned suddenly in May as the board of trustees suspended efforts to build a wing designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry. Fundraising for the project had stalled, and the Corcoran had accumulated deficits in 17 of the past 21 years.

Jeanne Ruesch, chairman of the Corcoran board, said yesterday that Greenhalgh's appointment was a signal that the Corcoran, the city's oldest art museum, is turning around after a rocky stretch.

Greenhalgh, 50, is a specialist in the decorative arts and artistic movements from 1850 to 1940. Before he became president of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in January 2001, he was head of research at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the world's largest museum of decorative art and design.

"We are all absolutely delighted that we have found a candidate with such a unique set of skills. Paul Greenhalgh has headed up an arts college and played a role in an internationally recognized museum. He has extensive experience as an administrator, manager and scholar. He will move us forward as we assess our strategic direction," Ruesch said. The board considered 18 candidates.

"I couldn't think of a nicer coming together for me," Greenhalgh said yesterday, referring to his interest in museums and art schools. The Corcoran College of Art and Design, founded in 1890, is one of the oldest in the country. "For me the thing that is most interesting is that the students and faculties make the art and the galleries display the physical thing. Flipping back and forth with those who create now and having the masters on display makes it interesting," he said in a telephone interview from Halifax.

He said he had missed the museum side of things. "I had started to pine for it," he said.

"I started out to be a painter, but I also enjoyed being a historian and uncovering those issues. By the age of 30 it was only possible to do one thing properly," Greenhalgh said.

He was born in Bolton, England, near Liverpool. He earned an undergraduate degree in 1978 from the University of Reading and a master's degree in art history in 1980 from London's noted Courtauld Institute of Art, where he specialized in design, then an unconventional choice.

Greenhalgh (pronounced GREEN-halsh) is a collector of ceramics. He treasures a framed statue of one of his inspirations, writer Oscar Wilde, and a teapot in the shape of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's head. "It pours really well."


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