Noted curator, scholar assumes leadership position in August

Williamstown, MA—The Board of Trustees of the Clark Art Institute has selected Olivier Meslay to serve as its Dena and Felda Hardymon Director. Meslay, an accomplished museum professional and noted scholar, will become the Clark’s fifth director when he assumes his new role on August 22. He currently serves as associate director of curatorial affairs, senior curator of European and American art, and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), and brings more than thirty-five years of international experience to his role. Meslay was unanimously elected to the position during a special session of the Clark’s board.

“We are thrilled to welcome Olivier Meslay as our new director,” said Andreas Halvorsen, chairman of the Institute’s Board of Trustees. “Olivier's vision, international experience, and exceptional academic and curatorial qualifications match the Clark’s ambitious aspirations. He comes to the Clark with a deep appreciation for our academic mission, an expert understanding of our museum program, and an energetic perspective on ways to enhance our dual mission and extend the Clark’s reach and impact.”

Since assuming his current position in 2012, Meslay has overseen the DMA’s European and American art collection of more than 4,000 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, and has managed the museum’s curatorial department, conservation program, and art research library. He has also served as the DMA’s curatorial representative with the French American Museum Exchange (FRAME), a collaborative organization of thirty American and French museums. Meslay served as the DMA’s interim director from 2011–2012, managing a staff of 250 employees, directing an extensive fundraising program, and coordinating donor relations that have provided continuing support for the museum. He joined the DMA staff in 2009 after a distinguished career at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

“Olivier first came to know the Clark as a Fellow in our Research and Academic Program in 2000, and it was clear from the very beginning that he had a deep affinity for the Clark and for the unique relationship between our museum and research programs,” said Francis Oakley, the Clark’s interim director. “It is heartening to see such a long relationship culminate in this way. Olivier’s passion for the Clark and for Williamstown and the Berkshires, combined with his extraordinary scholarship and leadership, hold great promise for the future.”

Meslay is the author of the recent publication From Chanel to Reves: La Pausa and Its Collections at the Dallas Museum of Art (2015). He served as the co-organizing curator for Mind’s Eye Masterworks on Paper from David to Cézanne (2014) and co-organized the exhibition Chagall: Beyond Color (2013) for the DMA. Meslay was the organizing curator of an exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy (2013). The exhibition brought together works of art installed in the presidential suite at Hotel Texas during Kennedy’s November 1963 trip to Dallas.

The European art collection at the DMA is recognized for the strength of its holdings of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century paintings, sculpture, and works on paper. During his tenure, Meslay has been instrumental in leading the acquisition of several important works including paintings by Gustave Caillebotte, Ernest Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Signac, Ramon Casas, Guillaume Guillon Lethière, Antoine Giroust, and Edouard Vuillard, as well as sculptures by Anne Whitney and Auguste Préault.

Meslay held a variety of leadership positions at the Musée du Louvre over a period of seventeen years from 1993―2009. He served as curator in charge of British, American, and Spanish paintings from 1993–2006; as chief curator of Louvre–Atlanta, a collaborative project with the High Museum, from 2003–2006; and as chief curator in charge of the Louvre–Lens project, the first regional branch of the Louvre. During his tenure at the Louvre, Meslay organized such exhibitions as William Hogarth (2006‒2007), American Artists and the Louvre (2006), L’art anglais dans les collections de l’Institut (2004), Constable, Le choix de Lucian Freud (2002) and La collection de Sir Edmund Davis (1999). Meslay also served as a professor at the École du Louvre from 1997–2000 and 2003‒2006.

“The Clark Art Institute has always been, for me, a unique institution blending in perfect balance a refined, strong, and seductive museum; a forum shaping the present and the future of art history through its Research and Academic Program; and a teaching institution thanks to its unique partnership with the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art,” said Meslay. “Adding to all of this is the beauty of the Clark’s natural environment, which is undoubtedly integral to its identity. My longstanding relationship with the Clark now comes to fruition as if in a dream-come-true, but also as a great opportunity to maintain, at the highest level of excellence, what this institution brings to the art world.”

In 2009, the French government honored Meslay as a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in recognition of his contributions to furthering French arts and culture throughout the world. A graduate of the Institut National du Patrimoine (1992–1993), the French State School for Curators, Meslay received an MA from the École du Louvre in 1983, having previously received an MA from the Sorbonne in 1982, where he also earned his BA in 1981. He is a member of the editorial board of The British Art Journal, London, and is a member of the Société d’Histoire de l’Art Français, Paris.

Meslay is the author of several books, including Mind’s Eye: Masterworks on Paper from David to Cezanne (2014); Turner, Life and Landscape (2005); and J.M.W. Turner, The Man Who Set Painting on Fire (2005). He has published extensively on the Franco-British artistic relationship in both the United States and Europe, and has contributed essays to numerous exhibition catalogues.

Meslay’s wife, Laure de Margerie, is a noted scholar on French sculpture and was also a Clark Fellow in 2000–2001. She spent most of her career at the Musée d’Orsay before becoming the founding director of the French Sculpture Census—a comprehensive survey of French sculpture in American public collections—in 2009. Meslay and de Margerie are the parents of three adult children.

Chosen after an international search conducted with the assistance of Korn Ferry, New York, Meslay replaces Michael Conforti, who retired from the Clark in August 2015. 


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08/18/2016 - Clark Art Institute Acquires Émile Bernard Painting

08/17/2016 - Clark Art Institute to Hold Public Symposium: 'Whose Nudes?'

08/16/2016 - Bestselling Author Jodi Picoult to Debut New Novel at Clark Art Institute 

08/12/2016 - Last 'Summer Sundays' Program to be Held at Clark Art Institute

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08/09/2016 - 'Dinner and the Show' at Clark Art Institute Offers Gourmet Dining and Private Gallery Access

08/05/2016 - Boston Circus Guild to Perform at Clark Art Institute

08/03/2016 - Sensory Moon Walk Planned at Clark Art Institute

07/29/2016 - Bring the Family to 'Summer Sunday' at Clark Art Institute

07/27/2016 - Writings of Henry David Thoreau the Theme of Stone Hill Hike at Clark Art Institute 

07/20/2016 - Family-Friendly 'Summer Sundays' Continue at Clark Art Institute 

07/15/2016 - Stone Hill Hike at Clark Art Institute 

07/14/2016 - Met:Live in HD Opera Performances Return to Clark Art Institute 

07/14/2016 - Summer Sundays Continue at Clark Art Institute 

07/13/2016 - Folk Singer to Wrap Up Summer Concert Series at Clark Art Institute 

07/12/2016 - Clark Art Institute Announces Opening Date for Manton Research Center

07/08/2016 - Story Slam at the Clark Art Insitute! 

07/07/2016 - Clark Art Institute Presents "From Naughty to Nice" at the Albany Institute of History and Art

07/05/2016 - Free Summer Concerts Continues at Clark Art Institute 

07/01/2016 - Clark Art Institute Presents Free Lecture on Art, Power, and Politics 

06/30/2016 - Figure Drawing with Live Models Offered at Clark Art Institute 

06/28/2016 - Free Summer Concerts Under Way at Clark Art Institute

06/27/2016 - Clark Art Institute Presents Opening Lecture 'Creating Sensing Place'

06/24/2016 - Clark Art Institute Invites Families to 'Summer Sundays'

06/22/2016 - Draw En Plein Air and Enjoy Acoustic Music at Clark Art Institute

06/21/2016 - Morning Meditation at Clark Art Institute Celebrates 'Sensing Place' Exhibition

06/17/2016 - Clark Art Institute Announces Lineup for Free Summer Concerts

06/13/2016 - Olivier Meslay Named Director of Clark Art Institute 

06/10/2016 - Clark Art Institute Partners with Highland Street Foundation to Present Free Fun Friday

06/07/2016 - Celebrate Summer Solstice at Clark Art Institute

06/06/2016 - Four Nations Ensemble Returns to Clark Art Institute for an Evening of Baroque Music

06/03/2016 - Renaissance Specialist to Present Free Lecture at Clark Art Institute 

05/27/2016 - Clark Art Institute Partners With IS183 Art School of the Berkshires to Offer Figure Drawing Classes

05/26/2016 - 'Unveiling the Nude' Lecture at Clark Art Institute Ushers in Summer Exhibition

05/19/2016 - Students Graduating from Art History Program to Share Schoarly Research at Clark Art Institute 

05/16/2016 - Clark Art Institute Invites Public to Opening Party for Summer Exhibition

05/13/2016 - Clark Interim Director Francis Oakley to Give Lecture

05/11/2016 - S. Epatha Merkerson and Deirdre O'Connell to Lead Williamstown Theatre Festival Reading at Clark Art Institute 

05/10/2016 - Discounted Admission Tickets Avaliable for Presale for Clark Art Institute's 'Splendor, Myth, and Vision' Exhibition

05/09/2016 - Free Lecture at Clark Art Institute Explores Eighteenth-Century Viennese Porcelain 

05/09/2016 - Clark Art Institute Earns LEED Gold Certification 

05/05/2016 - Jazz Cabaret Night Promises Lively Evening at Clark Art Institute 

05/02/2016 - Clark Art Institute Receives Grant in Support of Research and Academic Program

04/28/2016 - 'Meet Me at the Clark' Program for Persons with Dementia and their Caregivers Continues at Clark Art Institute 

04/26/2016 - Clark Curator to Hold Free Talk, Book Signing

04/19/2016 - Executive Chef to Prepare Mother's Day Brunch at Clark Art Institute

04/15/2016 - Clark Art Institute Plans Free May Day Celebrations

04/12/2016 - Gallery Talk at Clark Art Institute Explores Works by Delacroix, Denis, and Gainsborough

04/05/2016 - Free Lecture at Clark Art Institute Explores Venetian Painter Titian

03/24/2016 - Performing Artists in Residence Announce Chamber Concert at Clark Art Institute

03/22/2016 - Private Journals of Theodore Kaczynski the Subject of Free Lecture at Clark Art Institute

03/21/2016 - Free Drawing Day at Clark Art Institute Offfers Fun for All Ages

03/17/2016 - Clark Art Institute Celebrates Youth Art Month with Free Activities

03/15/2016 - Bagpipe Legend Paddy Keenan to Perform at Clark Art Institute

03/11/2016 - Clark Art Institute Celebrates Youth Art Month with Free Activities

03/01/2016 - Musical Performances on Tap at Clark Art Institute

02/29/2016 - ‘Meet Me at the Clark’ Program for Persons with Dementia and Their Caregivers Continues at Clark Art Institute 

02/26/2016 - Preschoolers Welcome at 'Start with Art' Program at Clark Art Institute

02/19/2016 - New Parents Invited to Free Gallery Talk at Clark Art Institute

02/17/2016 - Clark Art Institute Celebrates Youth Art Month with Free Activities

02/15/2016 - Carpeaux Sculpture Is Subject of Clark Art Institute's 'Looking at Lunchtime' Talk

02/11/2016 - Clark Art Institute Presents 'Collecting: An Afternoon with Jon Landau'

02/09/2016 - Clark Art Institute Presents the Free Lecture 'Museums, Heritage, Culture: Into the Conflict Zone'

02/05/2016 - Little-known Work by Eugène Delacroix on View at Clark Art Institute

02/01/2016 - Clark Art Institute Celebrates George Washington's Birthday with Week of Activities for All Ages

01/29/2016 - Start with Art Preschool Series Continues at Clark Art institute 
01/26/2015 - Clark Art Institute Offers 'Looking at Lunchtime' Gallery Talk 

01/25/2016 - Celebrate Valentine's Day at the Clark! 

01/22/2016 - New Parents Invited to Free Gallery Talk at Clark Art Institute 

01/21/2016 - 'Word Up' Family Day at Clark Art Institute Celebrates Storytelling 

01/20/2016- Clark Brings Masterpieces From Spain's Prado Museum to U.S. In Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado

01/19/2016 - 'Midwinter Movie Madness' to Begin at Clark Art Institute 

01/14/2016 - Yoga for Seniors Offered at Clark Art Institute

01/08/2016 - Clark Art Institute Partners with IS183 Art School of the Berkshires to Offer Painting Class Exploring Use of Color

01/07/2016 - Baroque Music and Saturday Supper on Tap at Clark Art Institute

01/06/2016 - Clark Art Institute's 'Looking at Lunchtime' Explores Alma-Tadema Piano

01/05/2016 - Clark Art Institute to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Free Screening of 'Selma'

12/09/2015 - Clark Art Institute Awards Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing to Eileen Myles


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