Melody Kanschat, president of LACMA, stepping down in May

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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art said Thursday that Melody Kanschat, who has served as president and chief operating officer since 2005, will be stepping down from her position in May. In a statement sent by the museum, Kanschat said that she was leaving the museum ‘to fully explore my own career interests.’

The museum said that, in the next few months, it will implement its leadership transition plan, reorganizing its administration under a team that will report to Michael Govan, who is the museum’s director and chief executive officer.

Kanschat has worked in various roles at LACMA for 22 years, including as the museum’s executive vice president for administration and external affairs and in the marketing, membership and development divisions.

During her tenure, Kanschat has helped to oversee the expansion of the LACMA campus, including the high-profile additions of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum in 2008 and the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion in 2010. However, leaders have since decided to halt further expansion until they have raised an additional $100 million in donations on top of the $320 million in cash and pledges given so far.


LACMA was hard hit during the recent recession, with its endowment taking a dip. The museum also had to mothball certain exhibitions and implement a hiring freeze. In June, the museum reported that it expected to finish the fiscal year with a $300,000 surplus and that it had adopted an operating budget for the 2010-11 year that boosted spending by about 11%. Kanschat’s tenure has not been without controversy. In 2009, the museum’s decision to end its weekend film series was met with a loud public outcry, including a critical letter from Martin Scorsese. The film series has since been spared the chopping block, but in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in June, Kanschat said the ‘film program is still in jeopardy.’

Kanschat assumed her current role in 2005, taking over from Andrea Rich.


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-- David Ng