ANNE AND FRANK GOODYEAR worked together at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery for 12 years before arriving in tandem to lead the Bowdoin College Museum of Art,

ANNE AND FRANK GOODYEAR worked together at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery for 12 years before arriving in tandem to lead the Bowdoin College Museum of Art,

BRUNSWICK

Bowdoin College Museum of Art hired its new director in May. Actually, it hired two.

In a world where many academic couples often live several states away from one another — if not in separate countries — in order to pursue work in their own fields, Anne and Frank Goodyear acknowledge they’ve been very fortunate indeed.

A RENOVATION of the Walker Art Building contains climate-controlled and light-controlled galleries, as well as a new ADA-compliant entrance. It opened on Oct. 14, 2007.

A RENOVATION of the Walker Art Building contains climate-controlled and light-controlled galleries, as well as a new ADA-compliant entrance. It opened on Oct. 14, 2007.

Frank’s field is American studies; Anne’s field is Art history.

Through most of their careers, they’d worked together at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery. The couple worked there for 12 years.

Then, last fall, they began a conversation with Bowdoin College to take over the office of director. Both of them were invited to join Bowdoin.

In just a few years, the museum at Bowdoin has become a worldclass institution.

The original James Bowdoin collection came to the college 200 years ago, and a little more than a hundred years ago, Harriet and Sophia Walker gave the charming Walker Arts Building with its classic architecture to the college in their uncle’s memory. The Bowdoin collection came to live in the new museum, and has been there since.

The little museum was designed in an age where natural light was a blessing, not a curse. Climate control was unknown in 1894. As time went on, the museum had trouble attracting major shows because of both its size and because delicate works of art need to be exhibited in low light and cool, dry temperatures.

In 2003, the school embarked on an ambitious mission to renovate and expand the Walker Art Building. The new building, which contains climate-controlled and lightcontrolled galleries, as well as a new ADA-compliant entrance, opened on Oct. 14, 2007.

Since then, it has hosted an exhibit on medieval English sculpture, another on Edward Hopper and his contemporaries, a Winslow Homer exhibit, the first collected show of Lesley Vance, a Michelangelo show, ancient pottery and sculpture, Katherine Bradford, and “By the Sea” by Maurice Prendergast, which closed this week.

The most recent installation is the work of contemporary Chinese women, which will run through late December.

While Frank Goodyear has mounted several small shows since his tenure officially began, including an exhibit on art of the American Civil War and Portraits from Antiquity in conjunction with Professor Jim Higginbotham in the Classics Department, the large shows that have been at the museum were well under way by the time they arrived.

But they have definite plans.

“We see the Bowdoin Museum as an encyclopaedic museum — that is, a museum with global reach,” Frank Goodyear said. He said he is looking forward to mounting shows from all periods of history and from all corners of the world, including contemporary artists.

The Goodyears see the original Bowdoin collection as a focal point.

“James Bowdoin recognized the value in collecting beautiful objects,” Frank Goodyear said. “More importantly, we also see our mission as collectors and protectors as the mission he, intellectually, intended.”

The Goodyears are excited about the team they are working with, including student docents and interns, and an operations director they called “superb.”

Anne Goodyear said the costs of running a world-class museum shouldn’t interfere with its educational mission.

“We see the educational mission as extended not only to the college campus community, but the community beyond the campus,” she said.

“We have K-12 students come to the museum, families, tourists,” he said. “We will also be working on a strong presence online.”

“We realize that we have to keep the collections fresh, and that costs money,” Anne said. “We’re so lucky to have a college community that’s dedicated to acquisitions, but also promoting temporary exhibits, while using the kernel of the original collection as a starting point.”

She said that they would not consider charging for entrance, or special exhibits.

But they are getting more “entrepreneurial” in other ways, including the establishment of a larger gift shop than existed before the renovation.

“Everyone doing anything creative here is also writing grants to make new exhibits possible,” she said, “and to keep the museum available free of charge.”

They are also working with the development department to identify and coordinate grants that will benefit both the museum and the college.

“We have a robust acquisition program,” Frank put in. “Not unlimited, so we have to be creative. But our goal is to obtain firsttier works.”

As to what the couple’s first large exhibits are likely to be, they begged to be given leave to announce it when the ink is dry on the contracts.

“We’re in constant negotiation with other collections and museums,” she said.

“We can say that our vision will be worldwide, across time. But as to what the exact nature of the next large exhibit will be, we need a little more time before we can announce it.”

Two shows will be opening in the next couple of weeks.

The first is an exhibit on women’s archetypes in early modern Europe, titled, “How She Should Behave.” That show is scheduled to open on Oct. 24.

The second show begins Nov. 7. Called “The Object Show” it highlights significant items in the Bowdoin collection.

In the meantime, the Goodyears are settling down in Brunswick. They just purchased a home and are also settling in to their twin offices, whose walls are — for now, at least — surprisingly bare.

“It was essential for us to have separate offices,” Anne laughed. “Mostly because we’re both very social, and love to talk.”

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Anne & Frank Goodyear

Bowdoin College Museum of Art directors

ANNE GOODYEAR is from Wellesley Hills, Mass. She graduated magna cum laude from Brown University and earned her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Texas at Austin, was named assistant curator at the National Portrait Gallery in 2001 and was promoted to associate curator in 2009.

FRANK GOODYEAR is from Phoenix, Ariz. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate — both in American studies — at the University of Texas. His bachelor’s degree was from Princeton University. He was named curator of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery in December 2012.

The couple was married in June 2000.


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