FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Boca Raton Museum of Art Announces Retirement of Executive Director Irvin Lippman
BOCA RATON, FL - Jody Harrison Grass, Chair of the Boca Raton Museum of Art, announced today that Executive Director Irvin Lippman will retire from his position on January 31, 2025. Lippman, who has served the Museum for the past decade, leaves a profound legacy of transforming the institution into a significant cultural destination in South Florida.
Jody Harrison Grass expressed her appreciation, stating, "On behalf of the Board of Trustees, it has been a privilege to work with Irvin, who has fostered a wonderful camaraderie with the staff and Board. His visionary leadership has propelled the Museum's growth and role in serving a continually expanding community."
The Board of Trustees has initiated a collaboration with an executive search firm to search for the next director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
Irvin Lippman remarked on his remarkable journey, "Leading the Boca Raton Museum of Art has been a capstone to a career that began in the National Gallery of Art education department in 1975. Over the past 50 years, it has been my pleasure to contribute to the vital cultural resource that museums represent. I commend my colleagues and our dedicated Board of Trustees for their unwavering commitment to the arts."
Lippman will continue to lead the Museum for the next twelve months, culminating in the Museum's 75th anniversary and the highly anticipated opening of the exhibition Baroque Spain. This exhibition will feature paintings by renowned artists such as El Greco, Velázquez, and Murillo from the Hispanic Society of America collection in New York. The event will coincide with Boca Raton's centenary, making it a celebration on many fronts.
Under Lippman's leadership since 2014, the Boca Raton Museum of Art embarked on a significant initiative to enhance the Museum's physical presence. Following a successful fundraising campaign, the project addressed issues such as obscured entrances, confusing signage, and limited wayfinding, resulting in a comprehensive upgrade inside and outside the building. Collaborating with Margi Glavovic Nothard at Glavovic Studio, Lippman created a new relationship between the Museum and its surroundings, offering a more inviting public space as is strived for in the Museum galleries. Of particular note, because of its size and complexity, is the transformation of the loading dock gate into a 75-foot structure through which one can see at a glance through the porous screen into the activities of the Museum while also seeing their own reflections. It became a work of art and not just a barrier, and entitled Mending Wall, an homage to the poem by Robert Frost.
One of the notable achievements was the opening of the Ohnell Sculpture Garden, along with the removal of the west colonnade of the Mizner Park Amphitheater. This transformation created a 360-degree promenade around the Museum, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the outdoor art experience. The Sculpture Garden features remarkable art commissions, including a stunning 144-foot-long mural by Odili Donald Odita titled Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; a newly commissioned mural, At a Moment’s Notice, by John Boone; and Susan Philipsz’ eight-channel sound sculpture The Wind Rose. Additionally, a 32-foot high wall mural, Worpswede-changing daytime sky, by the late Fluxus artist Geoffrey Hendricks now boldly greets passersby on Federal Highway, symbolizing the Museum's commitment to extending its reach beyond its galleries.
Under Lippman’s direction, the Museum completed the renovation of its public areas, including the Jody Harrison Grass Lobby and the Wolgin Education Center, along with a complete revamp of its galleries and a thoughtful reinstallation of the collections. These initiatives aimed to foster fresh and dynamic interactions between the artworks, ultimately enhancing the overall visitor experience. Three new galleries – one dedicated to African Art and the Art of Ancient America, one featuring the Museum’s comprehensive collection of prints and drawings, and a third designed to celebrate artists from the diverse local community are now the centerpiece of the rotating exhibitions.
Lippman's dedication to promoting the relevance of the Museum program is evident in a series of installations closely tied to the Museum's neighboring Pearl City. Located just two blocks from the Museum, Pearl City is one of the American South's earliest and longest-lasting African American neighborhoods. The collaborative efforts of Museum curators, staff, and the community with artists Maren Hassinger, Charles McGill, and Reginald Cunningham have resulted in acclaimed exhibitions and a lasting connection with Pearl City.
Lippman's leadership also brought high-profile exhibitions with international acclaim, expanding the Museum's audience and cultural tourism. Notable exhibitions organized by the Museum include Regarding George Ohr: Contemporary Ceramics in the Spirit of the Mad Potter; Imagining Florida: History and Myth in the Sunshine State; and An Irresistible Urge to Create: Florida Outsider Art. In 2021, the Museum hosted the international premiere of Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru, featuring a collection of 192 artifacts on loan from the Museo Larco in Lima, Peru. In 2022, Art of the Hollywood Backdrop continued to draw audiences, with a remarkable 318% increase in attendance from pre-pandemic numbers. The Museum is currently presenting Smoke & Mirrors: Magical Thinking in Contemporary Art, supported by the Teiger Foundation 2023 Grant Award, which supports boundary-pushing curatorial projects.
Lippman has been a proponent of expanding the Museum's reach beyond its location in Mizner Park. A source of pride for the program is the Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC), designed in 1970 by Marcel Breuer. As one of Florida's largest and most significant modern buildings, BRiC provides a gallery for the Museum's annual Art on BRiC Walls, a juried exhibition that is open to South Florida artists. The 132-acre campus also supports the Museum's Art in Public Places Initiative, further enhancing the cultural impact of the institution.
Founded by artists in 1950 as the Art Guild of Boca Raton, the Boca Raton Museum of Art has evolved into a vital cultural resource. The Museum's original building on Palmetto Park Road now serves as the Museum's Art School, nestled within a 3-acre sculpture park. In 2001, the Museum was provided land in Mizner Park, a mixed-use area in downtown Boca Raton. Designed by Donald Singer, the current Museum facility, with its bold volumes and emblematic design, reflects the spirit of Addison Mizner's Mediterranean Revival architecture of the 1920s that provided an indelible mark on Boca Raton. Located in Palm Beach County, the Museum attracts visitors from a wide range of regions, with nearly 50% being cultural tourists from drive markets or out-of-state, underscoring the appeal of its reputation, quality of programs, and supporting the Museum’s mission to be a vital cultural resource dedicated to the creative life.
For more information about the Boca Raton Museum of Art and its plans, please visit www.bocamuseum.org.
ABOUT IRVIN LIPPMAN
Irvin Lippman earned his BFA from the University of Denver and later served as a VISTA volunteer in Pine City, Minnesota. Following a year-long tour of Europe, he pursued graduate studies, ultimately earning an MA in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin. His museum career began in the Education Department at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (1975-1983). He held positions as the Public Affairs Manager and Assistant Director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas (1984-1994). In 1994, he assumed the role of Executive Director of the Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Art (until 2002, when he began a sabbatical in Berlin, Germany). In 2003, he was appointed Executive Director of the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale (retiring in 2012), after which he returned to his native Texas. However, in 2014, he came out of retirement for a short-term, interim position in Boca Raton, which happily has continued for ten years. Irvin Lippman has been a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors since 1995.
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