The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) has announced the upcoming retirement of Bonnie Campbell, the longtime director of the Bayou Bend Collection and Garden, a satellite space operated by the museum.
Displayed in the former home of Ima Hogg, a civic leader and philanthropist, the collection features American decorative arts, including furnishings, silver, ceramics, and paintings. The home, along with the 14 acres of land that it sits on, was donated to the MFAH in 1957. Ms. Hogg moved out of the property in 1965, and the space opened to the public the following year. Ms. Campbell stepped into the directorship of the organization in 2004.
In a press release, Gary Tinterow, the MFAH’s Director and Margaret Alkek Williams Chair, noted, “It is difficult to capture all that Bonnie has accomplished for the Museum in the nearly 20 years that she has devoted to one of the nation’s finest collections of American decorative arts. Above all, Bonnie has led the charge to broaden the public’s awareness of Bayou Bend and instill her own love of history, of art and of learning. Committed to preserving the special qualities of Ima Hogg’s gift to Houston, she has ensured that the remarkable house and gardens are now known and appreciated by thousands.”
Under Ms. Campbell’s leadership, the Bayou Bend Collection has expanded its public programs and doubled its attendance, now totaling over 100,000 visitors annually. She also oversaw the construction of the organization’s Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center, which was completed in 2010, and the restoration of several rooms in the house. Additionally, Ms. Campbell worked to advance the study of early Texas material culture, an interest of Ms. Hogg’s, through launching the biennial David B. Warren Symposium in 2007 and the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive, an online database, in 2012. Throughout her professional career, Ms. Campbell has been honored with numerous awards and recognitions, including an Award of Merit in Historic Preservation from the Texas Historical Commission.
About her time at Bayou Bend, Ms. Campbell stated, “My goal as director has been to increase awareness of Bayou Bend and share it with the greater Houston community. It is a city and state historic landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and here for everyone in Houston to enjoy year round… People like to say Bayou Bend is a hidden gem — it actually is literally hidden, only visible after crossing a pedestrian bridge over Buffalo Bayou. I feel a Texas-sized sense of accomplishment knowing that under my tenure, thousands of people have discovered Bayou Bend, making it less hidden, but still ̧ and always, a gem.”
Ms. Campbell’s retirement will be official as of September 30, 2023.