Matthew Teitelbaum has spent the last 22 years at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, running a large and complex institution that he turned into a city hotspot. So why the MFA?
"Well the quality of the collection is extraordinary," he said. "The staff that care for it is extraordinary. Boston is an incredible city, and there’s something exciting about the challenge of helping this institution get to the next level."
It's not the first time Teitelbaum, 59, has worked in Boston's arts scene. He had an early start as a contemporary art curator at the ICA.
When he takes over Aug. 3, he inherits a museum with a $623 million endowment and programming that careens from old masters to the masters of pop, something Teitelbaum knows a bit about, having featured a David Bowie show two years ago.
"By the way, I can articulate David Bowie in relation to art very easily," he said, "and it was exciting to do that project, and it actually created the conversation in the community I wanted."
Teitelbaum is the son of an artist who once staged protests outside the AGO for more contemporary art. He chose to speak with us in front of Turner’s masterpiece "Slave Ship" but said he’ll focus immediately on building the MFA’s contemporary art collection.
"It's a personal passion of mine because I think artists can teach us so much," he said. "And I feel, not just because I'm the son of an artist, but I do feel that artists are the most courageous people I know because they put themselves in the firing line, in the public eye over and over again with uncertainty. That's a very courageous act."