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Harvard museum director stepping down

Martha Tedeschi, who’s headed the university’s art museums since 2016, will retire in June

Martha Tedeschi, director of the Harvard Art Museums since 2016, will be stepping down at the end of June.Danny Hoshino © President and Fellows of Harvard College

Martha Tedeschi, director of the Harvard Art Museums, will be stepping down at the end of June, the university announced Tuesday. Tedeschi, 65, has been director since 2016.

“It has been a true honor to be at the helm of an institution so completely dedicated to research, teaching, professional training, and expanded public access,” Tedeschi told The Harvard Gazette.

“Expanded public access” referred to a signature achievement of Tedeschi’s tenure.

When the museums were closed because of the pandemic, from March 2020 until September 2021, Tedeschi oversaw a reliance on virtual programming. Once the museums reopened, they offered free admission on Sundays and, later, one Thursday evening per month.

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In June, Harvard stopped charging admission to the museums. Attendance has nearly doubled.

Among major acquisitions during Tedeschi’s time as director have been collections of Dutch, Flemish, and Netherlandish drawings from the 16th to 18th centuries and of postwar German art.

Notable exhibitions at the museums during Tedeschi’s directorship include “Inventur — Art in Germany, 1943-1955,” 2018; “The Bauhaus and Harvard,” 2019; “Devour the Land: War and American Landscape Photography Since 1970,” 2021, the catalog of which won Aperture’s award for photography catalog of the year; “Dare to Know: Prints and Drawings in the Age of Enlightenment,” 2022; and “From the Andes to the Caribbean: American Art from the Spanish Empire,” 2023.

Tedeschi came to Harvard from the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was deputy director of art and research. A specialist in British and American art, with an emphasis on printmaking, she’s the author of books on J.A.M. Whistler, John Marin, and Winslow Homer.

The museums named a new deputy director, Micha Winkler Thomas, last month.

In its announcement, the university said a search has begun for a new director.


Mark Feeney can be reached at mark.feeney@globe.com.