Thomas K. Seligman, Freidenrich Director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford, Announces His Retirement

Stanford, California — Thomas K. Seligman, the John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, has announced that he will be stepping down as director on December 31, 2011. Seligman was recruited to Stanford in 1991 as the Stanford Museum’s first full time director.

"Under Tom Seligman's leadership, our museum has become a source of tremendous pride and an integral part of the Stanford experience," said Stanford University President John L. Hennessy. "During the 19 years of his tenure, the museum has been rebuilt, its holdings have been strengthened, and its education program expanded. In many ways, his successes at the museum have set the stage for establishing a transformative Arts Initiative at Stanford, and he has our thanks."

In August of 1991, Seligman was introduced to the Stanford community at the Stanford Museum’s 100th anniversary celebration. He subsequently began what would become an eight-year adventure to reopen the museum, which had been closed due to severe damage in the 1989 earthquake. He oversaw the rebuilding project that included seismically strengthening and renovating the historic museum building and designing and constructing a new 42,000 square foot wing. Some 250 donors participated in a successful $42 million fundraising campaign to rebuild and reopen the museum.

“Tom Seligman was just what Stanford needed to bring this museum back after the earthquake,” said Mona Duggan, the museum’s Associate Director who has worked closely with Seligman since his arrival. “We were indeed fortunate to be able to benefit from the knowledge and expertise he brought to the rebuilding and reopening of the museum. What he has accomplished here is truly exemplary.”

In January of 1999, the university launched the Cantor Arts Center, a significantly revitalized and expanded museum. Today the Center is flourishing. It is a major destination on the Peninsula and a university and community treasure. Particularly noteworthy under Seligman’s leadership has been the acquisition through gift and purchase of important works of art in all areas of the Center’s diverse collection. Works such as an Isamu Noguchi sculpture, a mobile by Alexander Calder, paintings by Thomas Eakins, Frank Stella, and Richard Diebenkorn, prints by Albrecht Durer, as well as new African, Asian, and Native American objects have greatly enriched the Center’s collection. The campus also has been enhanced with outdoor works by Andy Goldsworthy and Mark di Suvero, and totem poles by Northwest Coast artists Art Thompson and Don Yeomans.

Seligman has overseen the development of the Center’s exhibitions, education, and publications programs, resulting in a creative learning environment that provides an important educational resource for the university’s teaching program, the local K-12 schools, and the general public. Today, the Cantor Arts Center draws some 180,000 visitors annually. Over the last 19 years more than $100 million in gifts have been raised, the Center’s fiscal state stabilized, and staff strengthened.

In 2007, Seligman’s exhibition and accompanying catalogue titled Art of the Tuareg: Saharan Nomads in a Modern World, documenting 20 years of research, opened at the UCLA Fowler Museum, traveled to the Cantor Arts Center, and concluded at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in Washington D.C.
Dean Richard Saller of the School of Humanities and Sciences will soon appoint a committee to oversee an international search for the next director of the Cantor Arts Center.

VISITOR INFORMATION: Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday–Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way.
Parking is free after 4 pm weekdays and all day on weekends. Information: 650-723-4177, museum.stanford.edu.

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Thomas K. Seligman, John and Jill Freidenrich Director, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Photo by Fred Mertz

View Tom Seligman's brief biography