Dennis Kois, whose tenure as executive director of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum has been marked by acquisitions and hirings, will leave his post in May to head back to his native Wisconsin. He will take over as president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Public Museum.
Kois, 44, said in an interview Monday that the decision is entirely based on family. He and his wife, Stacey Schmidt, grew up in Wisconsin and both sets of their parents live there. Kois said he and Schmidt want their children — Olin, 8, and Violet, 6 — to spend more time with their grandparents.
“I’m actually sad to be leaving,” he said. “DeCordova’s on a great trajectory. Things are advancing. We’re in the midst of master planning. We’ve got a great program, and things are firing on all cylinders. And I would love to be the one to see through all the things I’ve set in motion, but I have every confidence those things are going to continue in place.”
Kois arrived in Lincoln in 2008 having worked as the director of the Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas. Before that he was chief designer at the Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution. During his tenure at the deCordova, Kois has, among other things, commissioned works by Andy Goldsworthy and Orly Genger and overseen the hiring of chief curator Jennifer Gross from Yale University Art Gallery.
Kois also has raised millions for the once cash-strapped deCordova, money that has gone into acquiring works and maintaining them.
During his remaining time in Lincoln, he will advise the deCordova on its search for a new leader.
The deCordova also announced that trustee Deborah A. Hawkins has made a $1 million gift to fund curatorial initiatives as “an indication of her confidence in both deCordova’s progress under Dennis’s leadership and belief in its ability to move forward in Dennis’s absence.”