After a year-long search, the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum has found its new director.
Timothy Rodgers, the former director of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona, will take over the Wolfsonian’s reins starting July 1. He replaces former director Cathy Leff, who stepped down in 2014 after an 18-year run.
Rodgers, 56, had come to Miami often during Art Basel week and to visit his niece and nephew, who live in South Florida. He said his initial mission is to raise the museum’s international profile to the height it deserves.
“I want more people around the world to recognize the incredible quality of the Wolfsonian and its exhibits, publications and programs,” Rodgers said. “Because it’s a new museum, I don’t think a lot of people outside the area know about it. I want to showcase this amazing museum that just happens to be located on Miami Beach.”
Rodgers, who also served as Vice President of the Scottsdale Cultural Council for the past six years, has a strong background in academia, including associate and visiting professor stints at Lawrence University and the College of Santa Fe, which helped make him a good fit for Florida International University.
Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson, Jr., who founded the museum in 1986, said the decision to hire Rodgers was “shockingly easy.”
“We had at least 30 applicants, and many of them were very good,” Wolfson said via telephone from Paris. “But everyone – the museum committees, the staff, local and international supporters, even my family! – thought he was the best choice. He’s going to be making a lateral entrance into a functioning, vibrant and aggressive art institution that was launched by [museum founding director] Peggy Loar and Cathy Leff. He’s going to take over the helm of a ship that was already going full steam ahead and steer it toward new destinations. I’m really happy that FIU has shown such willingness and enthusiasm toward the museum and the appointing of Rodgers.”
The seven-story Wolfsonian-FIU Museum began as a place to house and catalogue the extensive Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection of Decorative and Propaganda Arts inside the former Washington Storage Co. historic building built in 1927 at 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. In 1997, the museum became a department of Florida International University and has earned numerous prestigious grants and funding from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, The Rockefeller Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.