Luis A. Croquer, a diplomat’s son with broad international experience, has been appointed director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, where he will oversee one of the region’s most important collections of modern and contemporary art.
Croquer, who currently serves as deputy director of exhibitions, collections, and programs at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington Seattle, said he looked forward to expanding the museum’s role at the university and Greater Boston community by taking “smart and calculated” risks.
“I don’t want the collection to languish and become something that’s too precious, too much of a jewel,” said Croquer. “I want to see it in action, generating dialogue and asking questions about art and the world.”
Croquer, 50, will assume his duties July 14. He succeeds Christopher Bedford, who last year was named director of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
“With this important appointment, we celebrate the deep legacy and rich future of the arts at Brandeis,” said Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz. “The Rose has undergone a period of rebirth and renewal, and is now poised for even greater artistic prominence.”
Founded in 1961, the Rose boasts works by some of the best-known artists of the 20th century, including Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Willem de Kooning, among others.
The university was widely criticized in 2009 when it was revealed that the school planned to close the museum during a budget crisis and sell the Rose collection. The school ultimately retreated from the plan; and in recent years the museum has renovated its building and expanded its collection and programming.
“This is a moment of growth,” said Croquer. “It’s a moment to refine the program and fully ground the institution.”
The son of a Venezuelan diplomat, Croquer has hopscotched around the globe, living for a time in England, India, Gabon, Lebanon, and Switzerland, among other countries. Prior to working at the Henry Art Gallery, he was the inaugural director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, with previous stints at the Museo del Barrio, the American Federation of Arts, and the Drawing Center, all in New York.
At the Henry Art Gallery, Croquer has overseen a variety of exhibitions and multi-disciplinary public programs, while also concentrating on expanding the collection’s contemporary holdings, securing gifts of works by such artists as Tracey Moffatt and Walead Beshty.
“I’m very suspicious of borders, so I really believe the collection should reflect the wider world,” said Croquer. “I want to think about the strategic growth of the collection. The opportunities are there, and I believe you can appeal and attract donors who can understand the collection and see where the gaps are to be able to make it more complete.”
Lizbeth Krupp, chair of the Rose board of advisors, said Croquer’s art world experience and international connections would lead the museum “from strength to strength.”
“I am delighted,” Krupp said in a statement. “Under his leadership he will further integrate the Rose into the cultural and intellectual life on campus, embracing the university’s values of academic excellence, social justice, engaged learning and global citizenship.”
Croquer said that as a museum within a university, the Rose can take risks others cannot and act as a bridge between Brandeis and the Greater Boston community.
“I really believe university museums will lead the way [for other museums] into the next century,” he said. “Art is too often pushed to the side as something that’s an accessory or a luxury, but it’s not. I think it’s embedded in everything.”