Local Arts

Bechtler museum’s first and only president plans to step down

The Firebird sculpture in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
The Firebird sculpture in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Charlotte Observer File Photo

John Boyer, the first and only president and CEO the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has ever had, is stepping down as leader of the museum, Bechtler officials announced Friday.

The museum, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in January, has begun a search for a new director and officials say they hope to have a new leader in place by the spring. Boyer will stay on as president and CEO until his successor is named, after which he’ll take on a full-time president emeritus role, museum officials said in a statement.

Boyer was not only the first president at the museum, but he was the first employee when he was hired in March 2008 by the Andreas H. Bechtler Arts Foundation.

He oversaw construction and the opening of the 38,000-square-foot museum on South Tryon Street, and under his leadership the museum amassed cash reserves of more than $1 million and an endowment of more than $15 million, museum officials said.

With his direction, the Bechtler featured more than 25 exhibitions including international shows of works by artists including Alberto Giacometti, Niki de Saint Phalle and Pablo Picasso.

john boyer.jpg
John Boyer, the first president and CEO of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, is stepping down. Courtesy of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

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Ted Garner, chairman of the Bechtler’s board of directors, said in a statement that the museum’s 10th anniversary “could be a natural time to celebrate John’s remarkable tenure, the museum’s successes, and transition the organization’s leadership to a new president and CEO.”

Charlotte’s arts scene has blossomed in the last decade, and the Bechtler has been a part of that growth.

The museum has given Charlotte a robust collection of modern paintings and sculpture by modern art’s brightest luminaries. But the visual arts museum has become something of a performing arts venue, too.

Besides being a museum of modern art, the Bechtler is also a jazz club, an art-house cinema, and, thanks to the 17-foot-tall “Firebird” statue that stands out front, it’s one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city.

The Firebird sculpture in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. T.Ortega Gaines Charlotte Observer File Photo

“It has been a pleasure working with John from the very beginning,” said Andreas Bechtler, the museum’s founder, who assembled and inherited a collection created by some of the most prominent figures in modernism. “His impact on the Bechtler, and Charlotte, will benefit this city for decades to come. My family and I are grateful for John’s leadership in focusing our mission into what has grown to become the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.”

When Boyer becomes president emeritus, he will boost fundraising efforts for the museum’s endowment and will help the museum continue to develop corporate and individual relationships, leaders said. The position will fall under the Andreas H. Bechtler Arts Foundation (the primary foundation behind the Bechtler Museum), and will report directly to the board.

“Leading the transformation of the Bechtler has been an extraordinary joy and privilege,” Boyer said in a statement. “Our success has been the result of the talent and commitment of exceptional staff and volunteers, a remarkable board of trustees, a supportive community and truly engaged patrons. The Bechtler is ideally positioned to continue a path of innovation required to grow over the next decade, and beyond.”

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Cristina Bolling writes about Charlotte culture for The Charlotte Observer and most enjoys introducing readers to interesting people doing interesting things. In addition to writing about the region’s style and fashion scene, she also covers topics ranging from the arts to immigration.