McNay Art Museum Appoints Matthew McLendon as New Director

by Jessica Fuentes December 16, 2022

The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio has announced Matthew McLendon, PhD. as its next director. Mr. McLendon will replace current director Richard Aste, who earlier this year announced his intention to step down in 2023.

A headshot of Matthew McLendon. He wears a dark suit and stands outdoors with a blurred tree behind him.

Matthew McLendon. Photo courtesy of the McNay Art Museum.

Mr. McLendon has worked in museums for over fourteen years, and prior to that was a professor for 7 years. Most recently, he served as the J. Sandford Miller Family Director and Chief Curator at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia (UVA). During his tenure, the museum saw an increase and greater diversity in both attendance and major support. Additionally during his time there, new programs were launched supporting artists and children of asylum seekers. 

In a press release announcing the appointment, Jody Kielbasa, UVA Vice Provost for the Arts, stated: “Under Matthew’s leadership, the Fralin Museum of Art has made tremendous strides in facilitating important conversations through the Museum’s collection and exhibitions. As director and chief curator, Matthew was devoted to sharing inclusive stories in the galleries, expanding the collection, bolstering audience engagement and garnering national media attention for the institution. His work and collaborative spirit left an indelible mark on the Fralin Museum of Art, the University of Virginia and our community of Charlottesville, and will benefit the Museum’s visitors and the UVA community for many years to come.”

Under McLendon’s leadership, the Fralin presented a number of nationally recognized exhibitions, including, a multi-sensory installation by Vanessa German; Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings, an exhibition that focused on the critical yet little-known period that Georgia O’Keeffe spent as a student at UVA; and Skyscraper Gothic, the first exhibition to investigate the European foundations of the American skyscraper. The Fralin also expanded its Native American collections in recent years, acquiring works by contemporary Native American artists, including Wendy Red Star, Cara Romero, Rick Bartow and others.

Prior to joining the Fralin, Mr. McLendon served as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. From 2010 to 2016, he taught at the New College of Florida and Florida State University. Earlier in his career, Mr. McLendon worked in the educational departments of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum and Tate Britain. 

In a press release announcing the appointment, Don Frost, President of the McNay’s Board of Trustees, stated, “Matthew’s dynamic experience as an art historian, museum director and curator will strengthen the McNay Art Museum’s position as a global destination for modern and contemporary art. We are confident that his expertise and strong commitment to civic engagement will advance the Museum’s vision of becoming a place of belonging for our diverse community.”

Darryl Byrd, McNay Board Member and Co-Chair of the Search Committee, added, “Matthew stood out from numerous, highly-qualified candidates as someone with a unique combination of business acumen, arts expertise, infectious positive energy and a true love for the integral role art museums play in the communities they serve.”

Mr. Aste will stay on in his role through February 10, 2023 and Mr. McLendon will officially begin at the McNay on February 13, 2023.

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