TMI: Thomas P. Bruhn, of William Benton Museum of Art

MuseumsArts and CultureUniversity of ConnecticutWilliam Benton Museum of ArtNew Britain Museum of American Art

You brought the William Benton Museum of Art at the University of Connecticut back from the brink of its demise. How did you manage to accomplish such a feat?

Working in conjunction with David Woods, dean of the School of Fine Arts, we wrote up a plan for the president that addressed the issue of the scale and purpose of the collections, how the collections could be even better integrated into the pedagogical fabric of the university, and how through collaborations with other museums like the New Britain Museum of American Art the Benton's collections could have better exposure in the State. The president, Michael Hogan, agreed with the plan, and the Museum began a process of renewal.

What don't they teach about being a museum director that you had to learn for yourself?

The one surprise was that everyone's problems end up on your desk. Unless you want to abrogate your responsibilities, you have to deal with them.

What influences your decisions about what sort of exhibitions to mount at The Benton?

The biggest consideration is whether or not a given exhibition reflects the university's mission and the role of the museum within that mission. Will the exhibition add to the educational experience of the students at the University of Connecticut? We also look at the value of an exhibition to the larger statewide community. Rarely, however, is an exhibition without an audience from both the public sector and the university.

What is the riskiest thing you've ever done?

Undertake an annual gala event for the museum. Fortunately, with the second that just happened, we have shown a profit that will be applied to our public programming.

When were you the most scared?

On those rare occasions when a work of art gets misplaced; happily, however, they always reappear.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Having curated any exhibition for which I also wrote a catalogue that I felt added something to our knowledge about the visual arts.

What is your biggest regret?

Not having published more.

If you weren't a museum director, what would you be doing?

I would still want to be within an academic context, probably teaching full time.

What's your favorite thing to do on a summer day?

Play tennis.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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