The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Dec 26, 2012

A big new year for the Akron Art Museum

Posted by rdurbin

Things are happening at the Akron Art Museum, a Knight Arts grantee. Change is in the air for 2013.

First off, current director and CEO of the museum, Mitchell Kahan, is leaving after 26 years at the helm of the institution at the end of this week. Kahan has been a mighty force for the museum – and for the city as well – by raising the profile and the financial base of the organization considerably over the years.

Mitchell Kahan, director and CEO, Akron Art Museum. Photo from

Perhaps most noticeable of his accomplishments was the completion of the expansion and renovation project that greatly increased the capacity of the museum to exhibit its own works and to bring in sizable displays that could not have been shown in the former facility. Think about it. Currently the museum has four concurrent exhibits – Robert Stivers, Brent Kee Young and Sungsoo Kim, Adolph Gottlieb and commemorative art through the history of the museum.

Mitchell Kahan will be missed.

Janic Driesbach, chief curator, Akron Art Museum. Photo from Janic Driesbach, chief curator, Akron Art Museum. Photo from

While the museum board searches for a replacement for him, recently appointed chief curator Janice Driesbach will also serve as interim director. She has worked previously as both curator (at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento) and as museum director (at the University of Nebraska’s Sheldon Museum of Art and at the Dayton Art Institute).

Staffing changes aren’t the only thing going on. As a kind of farewell gesture from outgoing director Kahan, this past week the museum announced that at the conclusion of its 90th anniversary year, museum supporters Rick and Alita Rogers pledged the lead gift for the design and construction of a long awaited outdoor sculpture garden. The completed outdoor gallery and multi-use space will bear the name of Bruce and Susanne Rogers, Rick Rogers’ parents.

Rick and Alita Rogers. Photo from Rick and Alita Rogers. Photo from

Planning will begin in 2013 after a new museum director is appointed. As the full scope of the project unfolds, museum trustees will raise additional funds to operate and endow programs for the space. The newly created space will be the venue for the museum’s outdoor activities, notably the Downtown at Dusk music performance series that it holds throughout the summer.

Akron Art Museum, One S. High St., Akron; 330-376-9186; Admission is $7.


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