Joslyn Art Museum

Omaha, NE



J. Brooks Joyner Is New Director of Joslyn Art Museum


Michael B. Yanney, chairman of Joslyn Art Museum's board of governors, announced on March 20, 2001 that J. Brooks Joyner has accepted the position as director of Joslyn Art Museum.

Joyner, 56, comes to Joslyn from the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he has served as director since 1996. His 35-year career as an academic, art historian, curator, and museum administrator has included directorships at Vancouver Art Gallery (British Columbia, Canada); Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Alabama); South Bend Art Center (Indiana); and Nickle Arts Museum and University of Calgary Art Gallery (Alberta, Canada). (left: J. Brooks Joyner. Photo courtesy of Joslyn Art Museum)

Tulsa's Gilcrease features the finest collection of Western American art in the country, and Joyner arrived as the museum was preparing to collaborate with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. on a massive retrospective show of Thomas Moran. The exhibition, titled simply Thomas Moran, toured in Tulsa from February through May 1998, drawing a record-breaking 150,000 visitors to the Gilcrease. Under Joyner's leadership, the museum underwent a major renovation, completed in less than 12 months, to prepare for the show that returned more than $600,000 in revenue to the city of Tulsa.

During his more than five years at the Gilcrease, Joyner oversaw the reinvention of the museum from a largely educational and scholarly institution into a more active, world-class museum that integrates its collections with the educational, cultural, and recreational goals of the Tulsa community. Joyner championed the organization of special exhibitions to underscore the strengths of the Gilcrease collections and bring new perspectives. Held in conjunction with the museum's 50th anniversary in 1999 and the end of the millennium in 2000, the exhibitions included Symbols of Faith and Belief: Art of the Native American Church and Norman Rockwell: An American Portrait. Initiating a new philosophy of exhibitions, Joyner focused the Gilcrease's attention on annual "anchor shows" of national importance to re-introduce the public to the collections and invigorate interest in the museum while considering the economic aspects and tourism possibilities of exhibitions of this magnitude. He first became familiar with developing programming for an international audience during his tenure at the contemporary-focused Vancouver Art Gallery. His organization of an exhibition there of works by Andy Warhol became the venue's most successful show ever.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Joyner received his bachelor's degree in 1966 and a master's degree in art history in 1969 from the University of Maryland. From 1969 to 1971, he also pursued post-graduate doctoral studies in 19th- and early 20th-century American art, as well as British and European painting and sculpture, at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. Originally planning on a career in academics, Joyner held art history teaching positions at the City University of New York, Towson State University (Baltimore, MD), the University of Calgary, and the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His involvement with the universities' art galleries, combined with the development of his substantial administrative and public relations skills, led to the realization that his future was in the museum field.

Joyner now turns his attention toward the future of Joslyn. "I am thrilled to come to Joslyn. The museum has clearly achieved tremendous success in the balance between exciting and popular exhibitions and the reinvention of an impressive permanent collection. I look forward professionally and personally to working for this cultural institution and becoming part of Omaha's cultural life."

Joyner has authored numerous exhibition catalogues and articles and has written introductory material far over a dozen books. Since 1996, he has served as a mayoral appointee to the Tulsa Arts Commission and is a frequent lecturer and exhibition juror. In 2000, Joyner was elected to the board of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and presently is chairman of the organization's membership committee. He has been a member of AAMD since 1988. Joyner and his wife Louise, also an art historian, are parents of two children, Jonathan and Isabel. He also has a daughter, Shelly, from a previous marriage and two granddaughters.

Michael Yanney stated, "Brooks Joyner brings to Joslyn a wealth of experience in museum administration and expertise in many areas reflective of Joslyn's collecting strengths. His enthusiasm for the workings of a museum with a focus on all art, from antiquity to today, will be a great asset to Omaha and the region."

Joyner will begin as Joslyn Art Museum's director on May 15, 2001. Joslyn's previous director, Dr. John E. Schloder, resigned in September 2000 to become founding director of the Naples Museum of Art (Naples, FL).

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This page was originally published 3/27/01 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/23/11

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