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Museum of Fine Arts appoints two key department heads

The Museum of Fine Arts may now be searching for a new leader, but the museum announced two key promotions Thursday that could bring long-term stability to the curatorial departments.

Frederick Ilchman, an MFA curator since 2001, will become chair of the Art of Europe department. Ilchman has been acting chair since George T.M. Shackelford left in 2011. Benjamin Weiss will lead Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. He replaces longtime department chair Clifford Ackley, 76, an MFA staffer since 1966 who will remain as curator of prints and photographs.

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The appointments are on an interim basis, as director Malcolm Rogers didn’t want to “tie the hands of his successor,” said deputy director Katherine Getchell.

“Their business cards are not going to say interim; they’re not going to have lesser powers. It’s just to build in some flexibility,” said Getchell. “It doesn’t seem like the right time to do an international search, and we have two great scholars and future leaders right here. And Malcolm would like the chance to work with them and mentor them.”

Ilchman, 46, is a specialist in Italian Renaissance. He curated 2009’s “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice” and, in 2014, an exhibition he cocurated, “Goya: Order and Disorder,” will open at the MFA. Weiss, 46, grew up in Newton, started at the MFA in the education department before becoming the museum’s curator of visual culture in 2011. Last year, he curated “Audubon’s Birds, Audubon’s Words.” He was also responsible for all 5,000 wall labels that were written and installed in the MFA’s Art of the Americas Wing in 2010.

Geoff Edgers can be reached at
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