Marla Price to Retire from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

by Jessica Fuentes March 28, 2024

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s Board of Trustees has announced the upcoming retirement of longtime Director Dr. Marla Price. 

A photograph of Marla Price reviewing a catalog.

Marla Price. Photo by David Woo

Ms. Price joined the Modern as Chief Curator in 1986. During her time in that role, she organized significant exhibitions such as 10 + 10: Contemporary Soviet and American Painters, which traveled to museums across the U.S. and overseas. In 1991, following the resignation of then-Director E.A. Carmean Jr., Ms. Price was named Acting Director, and the following year she was appointed Director. She was the first woman to hold that role since the museum’s founding in 1892.

In a press release, Marsland Moncrief, the Modern’s board chair, remarked, “Marla elevated the museum to international prominence through relationships she formed with respected museum partners and world-renowned artists, presenting critically acclaimed exhibitions, and acquiring key works for the permanent collection. She was instrumental in creating what ArtForum, in 2002, called ‘the most elegant museum in the entire country.’ With her leadership, the Modern has become an outstanding star on a national and international scale, while the mission has grown to be an inclusive community space for people to engage on different levels with the art of our time.”

In the three decades Ms. Price has served as the museum’s director, she oversaw many major projects. Perhaps the most significant was serving on the Building Committee that managed the planning and construction of the museum’s Tadao Ando building, completed in 2002. Additionally, under Ms. Price’s direction, the museum’s budget and attendance were substantially increased. Specifically, permanent endowments were established in support of programs and building maintenance.

A photograph of a painting by Susan Rothenberg of a horse.

Susan Rothenberg, “Cabin Fever,” 1976, acrylic and tempera on canvas, 68 1/2 x 85 5/8 x 1 1/2 inches. Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Museum purchase, Sid W. Richardson Foundation Endowment Fund and an Anonymous Donor.

Ms. Price was key in growing the museum’s permanent collection and facilitated the acquisition of numerous important artworks. In addition to her first acquisition as Director, Susan Rothenberg’s Cabin Fever, notable acquisitions have included Francis Bacon’s first self-portrait, a series of works by Sean Scully, and Mark Rothko’s White Band No. 27, which was a gift of Anne Windfohr Marion. 

Beyond working within the walls of the Modern, Ms. Price collaborated with many museums, including local, national, and international institutions. She has also written for exhibition catalogs for artists Milton Avery, David Bates, and Sean Scully. Ms. Price organized and edited the catalog raisonné of artist Howard Hodgkin and oversaw a multi-volume Sean Scully catalog raisonné project.

Rafael Garza, the Modern’s Board President, noted, “On behalf of the Board, we extend our sincere gratitude to Marla for her profound effect on the museum during decades of transformational growth, marked by legacy milestones including the completion of the Modern’s building and the growth and quality of the permanent collection. Her artistic vision and commitment to scholarly excellence have cultivated a robust organization with devoted, longstanding supporters and staff. We honor Marla’s impressive career and generational impact and acknowledge her invaluable guidance, which has positioned the Modern well for continued success.”

Prior to joining the Modern, Ms. Price served as Associate Curator of Twentieth-Century Art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Virginia, where she completed her dissertation on Milton Avery, and a BA with Honors from Mary Washington College. 

Ms. Price plans to continue in her role as Director until a new director is in place. The Board of Trustees has begun an international search, which is being led by Search Committee Chair Kim Darden and Koya Partners, an executive search firm.

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