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October 17th, 1996
Museum Appoints New Chief Operating Officer

At their meeting today, the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Museum of Art unanimously approved the appointment of Gail M. Harrity to the new position of Chief Operating Officer. Ms. Harrity will work with Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director of the Museum, who will assume the position of Chief Executive Officer upon the retirement of Museum President Robert Montgomery Scott.

Philip I. Berman, Chairman of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Board of Trustees, commented after the meeting, "We have reason to be very grateful to fellow Trustees who served on the Search Committee headed by Jack R. Bershad, for their thorough and excellent work in assisting Anne d'Harnoncourt to find such an impressive person to take on this new position. As the Museum's Chief Operating Officer, Gail Harrity will help us face the challenge of building on the strengths of the Museum so that it can enter the 21st century better able to serve an ever broadening audience."

Members of the Search Committee were:

  • Dennis Alter, Chairman, ADVANTA Corporation;
  • Jack R Bershad, Chairman, Blank Rome, Comisky & McCauley;
  • Alvin O. Bellak, General Partner, The Hay Group;
  • Berton Korman, General Partner, The Korman Company;
  • H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, President & CEO, The Lenfest Group;
  • Maxine Lewis, collector and volunteer in East Asian Art;
  • John Nyheim, Private Investor;
  • Kathleen Sherrerd, Vice-Chairman of the Board, and member of Women's Committee;
  • Walter Spiro, Chairman, Earle Palmer Brown;
  • Stanley Tuttleman, Chairman, Tuttsons, Inc.

A native of Rosemont, Pa., Ms. Harrity received her BA in Sociology from Boston University in 1973, where she graduated cum Laude and went on to receive a Masters in Public and Private Management in 1982 at the Yale School of Organization and Management.

Ms. Harrity spent seven years in Washington, D.C. in various governmental positions which included work as a legislative assistant to Senators Richard Schweiker and Charles Mathias, and a government relations position with the American Society of Travel Agents.

Her Museum work began at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where she held various positions from 1982 until 1989 including Special Assistant to the President, and then Assistant Treasurer and Chief of Budget, Planning and Government Relations. In 1989 she left the Metropolitan to take the position of Deputy Director for Finance and Administration at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where she managed a budget of $25 million and 350 employees. In addition to filling the roles of Chief Financial Officer and Operating Officer, she oversaw the $70 million renovation and expansion of the Guggenheim's landmark Frank Lloyd Wright building.

In 1995, she became Project Director for the Guggenheim Museum Bilboa, a $100 million project to create a new museum of modern art in northern Spain, with a 250,000 square foot building by celebrated American architect Frank O. Gehry. Ms. Harrity's charge at Bilbao has included preliminary specifications for the museum, oversight of the building's progress, a long range operating and marketing plan and the hiring of the new museum's staff.

Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated, "I could not be more delighted at the prospect of working with Gail Harrity as this great Museum strives to achieve its full potential. Thanks to Bob Scott's energetic leadership, our prospects are bright. The Museum is fortunate to have a strong and devoted staff, a splendid building, extensive collections of international distinction and a remarkable group of public, private and corporate supporters. Gail brings impressive skills, experience and enthusiasm to the task of helping us take advantage of all these assets in the coming years."

Ms. Harrity's principal responsibilities will include planning, budget oversight and the coordination of the Museum's business functions with a view to furthering its educational and artistic mission. Among the departments reporting to her will be Finance, Marketing and Public Relations, Membership, Wholesale and Retail Operations, Building Facilities and External Affairs. Working closely with the Director and the senior management team, she will take a leadership role in the preparation of a new strategic long-range plan for the Museum and oversee its implementation.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia's art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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