President and CEO of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art since January 2020, Michael Anderson, Ph.D., has been with the organization since 2014 and the interim president since July 2019. Passionate about the Museum Film program, Anderson works to bring independent, classic and foreign language cinema to OKC. He has also curated a number of exhibitions and helped to reimagine the museum’s permanent collection. Anderson earned his master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU and his doctorate in History of Art and Film Studies at Yale University. We caught up with Anderson and got his thoughts on … 

… what has kept him at OKCMOA for nearly a decade.

I have been extremely fortunate to participate in a great variety of art-centered experiences, from leading the museum’s film program to curating exhibitions to acquiring works of art and, most recently, to helping set the museum’s strategic vision. I love this variety, I love working with and being around great art objects, I love working with such a passionate staff and I love being involved in downtown Oklahoma City’s ongoing renaissance.

… his love of film.

I have two degrees in film studies (a master’s and a Ph.D.) and it very much remains my greatest artistic passion. The museum’s film program drew me to Oklahoma City initially, and it remains one of OKCMOA’s most unique features. We are often the only theater in the state (and sometimes even the region) showing a particular major new work or classic of world cinema. We are also planning a major exhibition for fall 2022 that incorporates film and video in both the galleries and the theater.

… long- and short-term goals.

We just celebrated our twentieth anniversary in our downtown building. I am excited to help envision what the next twenty years look like, making the best use of our beautiful facility as we look for opportunities to add badly needed additional exhibition space and collection storage, both in the short and longer terms. I am equally eager to continue the work of building a world-class collection, adding objects of great historical importance and artistic achievements in our areas of strength. 

… his main responsibilities.

As president, my role is to oversee museum operations, business affairs, fiscal management and our 70 member team; set an exhibitions schedule; grow OKCMOA’s permanent collection; help build and execute museum programming; liaise with and report to our board of trustees; fundraise; and help create a strategic vision for the museum’s future. 

… what he wants the public to know about OKCMOA.

One thing that I think not everyone would associate with an Oklahoma City museum is a great collection of modern art. In the 1960s, our institution purchased a major east coast contemporary collection that today provides us with significant abstract paintings by artists like Ellsworth Kelly and Sam Gilliam.

… his favorite art pieces.

Outside of film, one of my great artistic passions is American art, particularly American painting of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We have a number of wonderful examples, including George Inness’s large-scale landscape, The Coming Storm (1893), which he painted shortly before his death. In recent years we have added exceptional work by two of my favorite painters, John Singleton Copley and Thomas Cole, which greatly enhance the overall strength of our American collection. And then there’s another newer acquisition by twenty-first century art icon Kehinde Wiley, which has become an instant audience favorite (next to the Copley in our portrait gallery).

… one last thing.

Dale Chihuly. OKCMOA possesses one of the largest and best public collections of the artist’s work, which is currently on view in a must-see new exhibition, Chihuly Then and Now, which features a brand new Persian Ceiling and a number of loans from the artist’s studio, in addition to many community favorites that have been presented by our talented team in truly original ways.  

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