Photo courtesy of The McNay

Just as UTSA welcomes the class of 2020 this fall, the McNay Art Museum prepares to welcome its third director, Dr. Richard Aste. Earlier this month, the McNay Art Museum’s Board of Trustees confirmed Aste’s appointment. He is due to formally assume the position in early September.

“I am honored to be joining the McNay as the institution’s third director,” said Aste. “I look forward to expanding the great work of my esteemed predecessor, Bill Chiego, who, together with a gifted staff and a dedicated Board of Trustees, has made the museum’s world-class collections accessible and the visitor experience truly transformative.”

Current museum director Bill Chiego announced his plans to retire in the summer of 2015. A Transition Committee appointed by the Board of Trustees found Aste, with the aid of search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, to be the perfect fit for the position.

“Rich stood out from numerous candidates as someone who has the energy, optimism and entrepreneurial drive to lead the McNay into the future,” McNay Trustee and Chair of the Transition Committee Shon Manasco said. “He is a civic-minded individual whose background makes him an ideal cultural leader for a city like San Antonio.”

Aste is a third generation South American. Born in Lima, Peru and raised in Miami, Fla., Aste earned his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Later, he earned his M.A. in History of Art from Hunter College in New York and his PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is a 2016 fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

Aste assumed his first full-time curatorial role as Associate Curator of European Art at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico. It was here that he melded together his passions for both European and Latin American culture.

In 2010, he joined the Brooklyn Museum in New York where he currently serves as Managing Curator (Arts of the Americas and Europe) and Curator of European Art.

“Rich exemplifies everything we were looking for in our next director: a collaborative leadership style, intellectual curiosity and a deep knowledge of the arts,” President of the Board of Trustees Sarah Harte said. “With his broad international perspective and culturally varied background, he is poised to build, strengthen and diversify relationships between the McNay and the community of San Antonio.”

As Associate Curator of European Art at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, Aste reinstated the European collection of the museum; so far at the Brooklyn Museum, he has not only expanded the current European collection via acquisitions but has also orchestrated exhibitions that look to reach new audiences.

“Over the past six years, Rich rose to be one of the most treasured curators at the Brooklyn Museum,” Brooklyn Museum’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Director Anne Pasternak said. “With a focus on Latin American art, he brought insightful exhibitions to vast publics while expanding the Museum’s reach and scope to increasingly diverse audiences.”

It is Aste’s experience and work both in New York and the Caribbean that make him the ideal candidate to lead the McNay.

“We have confidence [Aste] will invest the time and energy to engage with San Antonio’s diverse audiences,” Manasco said. “He will be instrumental in not only shaping the future of the McNay but of San Antonio.”

Current director, Chiego shares Manasco’s confidence and is excited to welcome Aste. They met when the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism came to San Antonio in 2010 and encountered each other again in 2012 during a tour of the Brooklyn Museum’s American and European collections. Chiego is confident that Aste will lead the McNay in the right direction.

“Rich is an experienced and imaginative curator/administrator with an ability to relate a museum to its community,” Chiego said. “I look forward to seeing him build successfully on our accomplishments at the McNay over the past twenty-five years.”

As for Aste, he awaits the moment in which he can begin increasing the reach the McNay Museum has in San Antonio. In the future, he would like to see the McNay inspire creativity, social awareness, self-discovery and personal growth in its audience.

“Today, as San Antonio approaches its tricentennial, it is a model American city of the future, defined by a robust economy and rich diversity,” Aste said. “More than ever, the McNay is positioned to become a vital, soul-enriching resource for every San Antonian and a major player in the city’s great success story.”

Aste’s current Brooklyn Museum exhibition, French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950, is due to come to the McNay Art Museum in spring of 2017. The exhibition will include works by Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin among others.

The McNay is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm; Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm; Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm; and on Sundays from noon to 5 pm. Admission ranges between $10 to $20 for adults and $5 to $15 for students, seniors and active military.

Certain collections and exhibitions, as well as special events, might influence ticket prices.  Check the museum’s events, exhibitions and prices at www.mcnayart.org for more information.

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