Clark Art Institute Announces New Leader, From Dallas Museum

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Olivier Meslay Credit Dallas Museum of Art

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in the Berkshires has chosen Olivier Meslay, a longtime curator at the Dallas Museum of Art and before that at the Louvre, as its new director, to succeed Michael Conforti, who led the institution for more than 20 years.

He takes over at the Clark after an ambitious physical and financial transformation of the museum, which is renowned for its collection of Impressionist, 19th-century American and European paintings, and many superb Renaissance works. Mr. Conforti oversaw the growth of the museum's endowment to $357 million from $128 million and completed a dozen-year, $145-million expansion designed by the architect Tadao Ando, which opened in 2014.

Mr. Meslay, who is associate director of curatorial affairs and senior curator of European and American art in Dallas, also served as the museum's interim director in 2011 and 2012. His connection with the Clark goes back to 2000, when he and his wife, Laure de Margerie, a scholar of French sculpture, spent a year at the museum on fellowships, an experience that Mr. Meslay said sparked an interest in coming to work in the United States and a deep regard for the Clark's focus on research.

"When Michael retired, a light started to shine for me," said Mr. Meslay, 59, who was born in Morocco and was raised there and in Toulouse, in France. He worked at the Louvre for 17 years, as the curator in charge of British, American and Spanish paintings, and also as the chief curator of Louvre–Atlanta, a collaborative project with the High Museum in Atlanta. "The Clark is a place that combi nes qualities that are rarely combined," he said, "It's a collection that stays true to its original mission and philosophy, and a place that draws scholars from around the world."

Mr. Meslay, who will take over in August, added: "I think my vision over the next years is to maintain the identity of the Clark in this new environment. I don't have to think about any building or expansion. I have only to think about adding to it without changing the magical aspect of the place."

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