After serving as director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art for almost exactly 10 years, Katy Kline will step down from the position in October.
According to Kline, when she took the job in 1998, her specific assignment was to "reinvigorate and enliven the museum." The museum reopened last fall after a $20.8 million renovation, and Kline said she thought it would be important to stay for one more year, but no more.
"Everything is good. It is a good time to leave and let somebody else invent the next chapter," Kline said.
At Monday's faculty meeting, President Barry Mills said that there is national search underway for the next museum director.
"We are looking literally everywhere for a successor to her at the art museum," Mills said.
Until a new director is appointed, retired Professor of Art History Clif Olds will serve as an interim director.
Kline's decision to resign was announced in May in a campuswide e-mail from Mills.
"[Kline's] focus on maintaining a talented staff, providing program, and sustaining connections to the community during two years of closure and renovation was admirable," Mills wrote in the e-mail.
"[Kline] has guided the development of the collections through strategic purchases and cultivated important relationships with current and future donors," Mills wrote.
In an interview, Mills said that Kline "wanted to get the art museum up and running, and then stay and play the instrument for a year."
Kline said that during her first few years as director, it was difficult to plan exhibitions far in advance because she did not ever know how much time she had before the museum would close for renovations.
One of her favorite exhibitions to organize, "Pointed Pairings," was on display in 2002. The exhibition showed pairs of objects that were superficially similar but considered vastly different in value. Just by looking, viewers would guess which object of each pair was extremely valuable.
"I invited them to use their own eyes," Kline said.
Another one of Kline's favorite exhibitions to organize, which was on display in 2004, was a traveling show of surrealist art on paper that included an element added by the Bowdoin Museum of Art. Kline arranged for regional artists to participate in a surrealist drawing game called "the exquisite corpse." Twenty artists received instructions that told them to draw the first quarter of a figure on a piece of paper, fold the paper over to make their drawing invisible, and pass the drawing to another artist.
When finished, the 20 original pieces of paper were returned as 20 drawings of fantastical creatures, each divided into four very different segments. The drawings were hung as part of the surrealist show.
"It was a way of taking a travelling show and adding something to it to make it more specific to this place," Kline said.
During her first summer on the job, Kline organized an exhibition that showcased one artist's response to the Maine landscape. Since then, there has been a Maine landscape exhibition every summer that the museum has been opened, each time featuring a different artist.
After she leaves her position at Bowdoin, Kline does not plan to work as a director at another museum.
"First, I need to take a trip, then I'm going to catch my breath," Kline said. "I have decided not to follow through on any invitation to be a director at other museums."
Instead, Kline plans to write, do research, organize exhibitions, and consult.
"Its been an intense decade, but I can leave with the feeling that things are in good shape," Kline said.