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Colin Bailey named director of Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco

ArtistsMuseumsArts and CultureArtHuman InterestThe Getty

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have named Colin Bailey as their new director. Bailey, who most recently served as the deputy director and chief curator at the Frick Collection in New York, will head the De Young Museum and the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

For more than a year, the Fine Arts Museums have been without a director following the death in 2011 of John Buchanan. He died at 58 following a battle with cancer.

Since then, the organization has searched for a director amid reports of in-fighting and internal dissent among staffers. Last year, workers at both museums threatened to strike in a dispute with management. 

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Born in Britain, Bailey has held positions at a number of leading art institutions, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Fine Arts Museums bill themselves as the largest public arts institution in Northern California, with 1.6 million visitors last year. The organization said it has 550 employees. Current exhibitions include Vermeer's "Girl With the Pearl Earring" and "Rembrandt's Century," both at the De Young.

"I have always been amazed at the ambitions and achievements of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,'' Bailey said in a statement." There's an opportunity to do the larger blockbuster projects and also the more focused and scholarly undertakings."

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The Fine Arts Museums said that Bailey was picked after an "exhaustive year-long international search" by a 13-member selection committee from its board of trustees. The organization said the board "was clearly intent on moving beyond the museums' reputation as a home for blockbuster exhibitions to focus more on its permanent collections."

Past blockbuster exhibitions include a show devoted to fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs."

Diane Wilsey, the board's president, said in a statement that "we all agree that Colin has the qualities that will elevate the museums to the next level."

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