Wednesday, 20 May 2009 10:38
Peter Tilles, the president of Nassau County Museum of Art’s (NCMA) board of trustees, announced that Old Westbury resident Jay Kamm has been appointed executive director of the museum and that Constance Schwartz, the previous director, was appointed director emeritus and continues to serve the museum in development, leading the effort to raise funds for the capital campaign for building expansion.
Kamm’s first initiative at the museum is to undertake a listening tour among members, donors, sponsors and other supporters. “I need to know what they value about the museum, what they hope for from the museum and what directions they’d like us to explore,” said Kamm, who most recently served as director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, TN.
Kamm is also looking forward to working closely with the museum’s staff, building the resources to help staff members develop and expand upon their talents. He sees enormous potential at NCMA, especially given the building expansion being planned. “This new building, which offers much larger exhibition spaces, an auditorium and bigger spaces for the Museum Shop and Café, will launch the museum into exciting new areas of community service,” said Kamm.
The additional facility, he said, will enable him to build on the strong programs initiated by Constance Schwartz during her many years of leadership at the museum.
At the Dixon, Kamm was responsible for a fine arts museum situated on 17 acres of formal gardens and parkland areas. During his nine-year tenure, Kamm administered a 35-member staff and a budget of $2.75 million. He expanded membership by 34 percent and raised $13 million for program support and the museum’s endowment fund. He also forged collaborations with many other Memphis cultural institutions, placing his museum at the center of the city’s cultural life.
Prior to his association with the Dixon, Kamm was associate director of the Wolfsonian Museum and Research Center with branches in Miami Beach, FL and Genoa, Italy. The Wolfsonian has a 100,000-object collection of European and American fine arts, decorative arts, archives and library materials of the late-19th to mid-20th century. Kamm also held professional museum responsibilities in St. Paul, MN and Washington, D.C. He earned an M.A. in arts administration from the University of Cincinnati, a diploma from the Museum Management Institute of the University of California/Berkeley, an M.A. in Art History from the Rosary College Graduate School of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy and also attended Loyola University’s academic center in Rome, Italy.
Kamm is prominent in the professional associations that serve the museum community. He serves on the board of trustees of Preservation Management Institute and is a member of American Association of Museum, Association of Art Museum Directors and International Committee on Museums. He is also a participant in conservation and historic preservation activities.
Kamm and his wife Patty, a paintings conservator, live in Old Westbury. When not at the museum, he’s been enthusiastically exploring Long Island. He said, “I’ve been amazed at the beauty and variety of the North Shore.”