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New Starts, Then Detroit’s Bankruptcy

In: Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum


  • Jeffrey Abt

    (Wayne State University)


In the midst of final negotiations over transferring the museum’s operations to the Founders Society, Sam Sachs resigned to direct the Frick Collection in New York. By early 1998 the Commission and Society hired a head-hunting firm to search for his successor and among the candidates it contacted was Graham W. J. Beal. He was then in an unusual leadership arrangement, for American art museums, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Beal was the director and executive vice president in charge of the institution’s acquisitions and programming; someone else was the president and supervised its business operations. Beal turned down the DIA’s initial overture, gave it a second look when reapproached about a year later, and assumed its leadership in October 1999 (Fig. 5.1). Beal (b. 1947 in England) earned a baccalaureate degree from Manchester University and a master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute (London), specializing in seventeenth-century art and architecture. He began volunteering in the Manchester University gallery while still a student and entered the profession after completing his graduate studies, rising quickly through curatorial and director positions in England and the United States, including the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), 1977–1983; the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (Norwich, England), 1983–1984; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1984–1989; the Josyln Art Museum (Omaha), 1989–1996; and he began at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1996. Beal’s research and writing expanded during this period to include modern and contemporary art in England and the United States as well as museum policy issues.1

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Abt, 2017. "New Starts, Then Detroit’s Bankruptcy," Palgrave Studies in American Economic History, in: Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum, chapter 0, pages 151-191, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:psichp:978-3-319-45219-7_5
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-45219-7_5

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