The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Appoints Daniel Kurt Ackermann Director of Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Dr. Ackermann comes to the American decorative-arts house museum from Old Salem Museums & Gardens and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

HOUSTON—March 4, 2024—Daniel Kurt Ackermann has been named director of Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, the historic MFAH house museum for American decorative arts. Gary Tinterow, director, Margaret Alkek Williams Chair, of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, announced the appointment today.

Dr. Ackermann comes to Bayou Bend after a career of 16 years at Old Salem Museums & Gardens and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a living-history institution that includes historic 18th- and 19th-century buildings; MESDA, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and its library and research center; and historic gardens. He begins his appointment in July, succeeding longtime Bayou Bend director Bonnie Campbell, who retired in September.

“Daniel Ackermann’s expertise in material culture of the American South, and his enthusiasm for bringing a thoughtful range of historical perspectives to the public, make him the ideal person to lead Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens,” commented MFAH Director Gary Tinterow. “I look forward to working with Daniel to expand upon Bonnie Campbell’s many initiatives, which have introduced Bayou Bend to an ever-widening audience of Houstonians and visitors to our region.”

“I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of Bonnie Campbell and David Warren and look forward to building on their accomplishments. Thanks to Ima Hogg’s vision and generosity, Bayou Bend is home to one of America’s great decorative arts and botanical collections,” says Dr. Ackermann. “As part of the MFAH, Bayou Bend is a unique site for the study of American decorative arts and material culture in a national and global context.”

As chief curator and director of collections, research, and archaeology at Old Salem and MESDA, Dr. Ackermann has led a team of curators and researchers in collections care; research-resources development; print and online publishing; and exhibitions. Presentations under his direction have included Rivers of Ink, Mountains of Type: Maps at Work in the Early American South, which addressed colonization, war, enslavement, economics, science, technology, and education through early southern maps; House Party: R.S.V.P. B.Y.O.B, a site-specific work co-curated with artist Michael J. Bramwell that juxtaposed contemporary work by Theaster Gates, Renée Green, David Hammons, Lonnie Holley, Todd Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Alison Saar, and Kara Walker with work by 18th- and 19th-century Black craftspeople, including David Drake; Fire+Clay: Contemporary Conversations, a contemporary intervention in the William C. and Susan S. Mariner Southern Ceramics gallery, featuring works by ceramicists Michelle Erickson, David F. Mack and David Stuempfle; and the catalog and exhibit Layered Legacies: Quilts from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem in collaboration with the North Carolina Museum of Art and curators Dr. Lauren Applebaum, Jenny Garwood, and Lea Lane.

Concurrent with this leadership role at Old Salem and MESDA, Dr. Ackermann has been director, since 2018, of the MESDA Summer Institute, leading a team of scholars to teach a month-long decorative arts and material culture field school for graduate students, museum professionals­ and makers in collaboration with the University of Virginia.

Dr. Ackermann serves on the boards of the Regional Furniture Society, Great Britain; the Magazine ANTIQUES Board of Advisors; and the Decorative Arts of the Gulf South Advisory Committee, The Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans, Louisiana, and is the author of more than a dozen publications on a range of topics related to the material culture of the American South. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the College of William and Mary; his Master of Arts in Architectural History from the University of Virginia; and his Ph.D. in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

About Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is the house museum for the MFAH collection of early- American decorative arts and paintings. Designed by Houston architect John F. Staub and completed in 1928, it was originally the home of Houston philanthropist and collector Ima Hogg. She deeded Bayou Bend to the MFAH in 1957, and it opened to the public in 1966. The collection comprises objects made or used in the United States between 1620 and 1876, including furniture, paintings, sculpture, prints, ceramics, glass, metals, and textiles. More than 2,500 objects are on display in 28 room settings and galleries, including portraits by John Singleton Copley and Charles Willson Peale; furnishings by Duncan Phyfe, John Henry Belter, and 19th-century Texas craftsmen, such as Johann Michael Jahn; and early Texas ceramics, including pottery by Hiram Wilson, who established one of the first Black-owned-and-operated enterprises in Texas. Bayou Bend is sited on 14 acres of organically maintained gardens and woodlands; its eight formal gardens reflect the Beaux Arts design traditions of the American Country Place Era, and the Southern garden heritage. 

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