The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced today that Jay McKean Fisher, one of the institution’s longest-serving curators and the inaugural director of its Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies will retire on March 31. A scholar of nineteenth-century French prints and drawings, Fisher began his career at the BMA as an assistant curator in 1975.
“Jay has been an invaluable member of the BMA family, providing both continuity of leadership and a sense of institutional history that has ensured we remain true to our mission of service to the community,” said museum director Christopher Bedford. “In an age of seemingly constant transition, it can be difficult even to contemplate the kind of multi-decade legacy that Jay has built here. But all of us who have had the pleasure to work with him know that he is a dedicated scholar of art history and unfailingly kind and collegial, always seeking opportunities to support projects and opportunities that will benefit the BMA and our audiences.”
During his forty-five-year tenure at the BMA, Fisher served as senior curator of prints, drawings, and photographs, as deputy director for curatorial affairs, and as interim codirector from 2015–16. He also organized many notable exhibitions including BMA’s “Matisse: Painter as Sculptor” (2007), “Photographs, Drawings, and Collages by Frederick Sommer” and “Surrealist Art from the BMA’s Collection” (1999), and “The Prints of Édouard Manet: A Centenary Celebration” (1983); was instrumental in the acquisition of the George A. Lucas Collection of nineteenth-century French art, the Gallagher/Dalsheimer collection of American photography, and more than five-hundred works by Matisse; and helped shape the vision and direction of Center for Matisse Studies.
Commenting on his service to the institution, Fisher said: “It has been an enormous privilege and honor to be a part of this great museum. There have been so many incredible milestones throughout my tenure at the BMA. The opportunity to shape the trajectory of an outstanding public collection and to bring those artworks to the fore through new scholarship, exhibitions, and programs has been among the great pleasures of my life.”