Sources told us this morning that Charles Venable had resigned as executive director of the Speed Art Museum to take a position in Indianapolis.
We politely told them such a thing could never happen.
How could Venable mastermind the most dramatic expansion and reconfiguration in the museum’s history, solicit $50 million in pledges from Louisville’s art patrons, then leave before the project even starts?
We were wrong.
So far, our sources have one word: “Stunned.”
But museum insiders say Venable informed them on Sunday morning that he would be leaving for the larger Indianapolis Museum of Art, soley as a career move.
We’re posting a release from the museum in its entirety.
More as we know more:
Charles L. Venable To Depart the Speed Art Museum in September 2012
August 15, 2012, Louisville, KY – The Board of Trustees of the Speed Art Museum announced today that Dr. Charles L. Venable will be leaving the Speed Art Museum to become the Melvin and Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, effective October 8, 2012. Venable will step down as the director and CEO of the Speed Art Museum in September. During five years of outstanding leadership at the Speed, Venable fueled tremendous institutional growth, initiated innovative programs, fostered deeper engagement with the public, and established a robust plan for the Museum’s future.
In announcing Venable’s departure, Todd P. Lowe, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Speed Art Museum, said, “We greatly appreciate Charles’ dedication and commitment to the Speed over the past five years. While there is never a good time for as talented a leader as Charles to depart, due to his work on the master plan for the Museum and his fundraising leadership, the Speed is in an excellent position to enhance its institutional reinvigoration and expansion. The Speed has raised nearly 95% of its $50 million goal for the upcoming 200,000-square foot expansion and is prepared to open the ‘New Speed’ in late 2015.
On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I extend our sincere thanks to Charles for his leadership in laying the ground work that will enable the Speed to play an even greater role in the cultural life of Louisville. We wish him great success in the next phase of his career.”
The Speed’s master plan includes the reconceptualization of the Museum’s current facility and an expansion that will include a new North Building for modern and contemporary art and temporary exhibitions, as well as a new art park and piazza for outdoor sculpture. Under Venable’s leadership, the Speed’s annual fund and upper-level membership have tripled and he has set the Museum on strong financial standing as it commences the groundbreaking of its expansion project. During his tenure, Venable also launched a comprehensive analysis of the Speed’s 14,000-piece permanent collection and oversaw the strengthening of the collection through a series of acquisitions of major works.
Venable said, “It has been an honor to work with the Speed’s dedicated and talented staff, outstanding Board of Trustees, and the Museum’s vibrant community of members and visitors, and I want to thank them all for their hard work and support for the Speed. I am very proud of all of our collective accomplishments and will continue to be a great champion of the Speed as it embarks on its exciting future.”
Discussing the next steps for the Speed, Lowe said, “With the support of the Board of Trustees and the community of Louisville, the Museum will break ground on its expansion next month. We look forward to ushering in this new chapter in the Museum’s trajectory as we prepare for our future.” The Speed’s Trustees will appoint a committee in the fall to conduct a national search for the next Director and CEO of the Museum.