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UMFA executive director named to prestigious art board

Gretchen Dietrich joins an impressive roster of respected industry leaders

Gretchen Dietrich, executive director of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) at the University of Utah, has been invited to join the inaugural board of directors for Art Bridges, an exciting new foundation dedicated to expanding access to American art across the country.

Dietrich joins an impressive roster of respected industry leaders, including Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Glenn D. Lowry, director of The Museum of Modern Art; Rod Bigelow, director of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; and Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, among others.

“This is well-deserved recognition of Gretchen’s expertise and stature among museum leaders across the country,” said Ruth V. Watkins, president of the University of Utah. “Under Gretchen’s management, our Utah Museum of Fine Arts continues to reach new heights. This prestigious appointment elevates Gretchen’s impressive work to the national stage.”

Founded by patron of the arts and philanthropist Alice Walton, Art Bridges strives to bring great works of American art out of storage and into communities across the country. The foundation partners with museums of all sizes and locations, providing financial and strategic support of exhibition development, collection loans and programs designed to engage new audiences.

“The remarkable individuals who have agreed to join the Art Bridges board of directors are visionaries in their respective communities,” said Walton in a major national announcement last week. “Together with our new CEO, Paul R. Provost, they will help Art Bridges increase access to great American art for people in all corners of our nation.”

Art Bridges is supporting a number of initiatives that are bringing celebrated artworks to the UMFA, including the loan of a painting by renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera, as well as supporting a wide variety of public programs that seek to engage new and diverse audiences.

Art Bridges, in partnership with Terra Foundation for American Art, is also supporting a five-year partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and five museums in the American West to expand access to outstanding works of American art nationwide. Through this project, the UMFA recently received three loaned paintings by major American artists—Georgia O’Keeffe, Thomas Moran, and Alma Thomas—from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. All four loans are on view at the UMFA through October 4, 2020.

The UMFA under Dietrich’s nearly ten years of leadership has flourished, with increased attendance, audience engagement and community outreach, higher revenues and new institutional support, and ever-growing recognition as a regional art museum of note.

From 2015-2018, Dietrich served on the board of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and oversaw AAMD’s Education & Community Issues Committee. In 2014, she participated in the Getty Leadership Institute’s Executive Education for Museum Leaders program, and in 2015 she was a member of the National Art Strategies’ chief executive program, which brings together fifty international arts leaders to explore community impact, place-making, community collaboration and innovation.

Prior to her tenure at the UMFA, Dietrich held positions in museum education, public programming and exhibition planning at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She holds an MA in art history from Temple University and an undergraduate degree in art history from Chestnut Hill College.