Saturday, May 19 at 4:00 pm

Speaker Series: Gary Vikan, Author of Sacred and Stolen

Join us on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. when we welcome Gary Vikan, author of Sacred and Stolen: Confessions of a Museum Director to our speaker series.

Sacred and Stolen is the memoir of an art museum director with the courage to reveal what goes on behind the scenes.  It lays bare the messy part of museums: looted antiquities, crooked dealers, deluded collectors, duplicitous public officials, fakes, inside thefts, bribery, and failed exhibitions.  These back stories, at once shocking and comical, reveal a man with a taste for adventure, an eagerness to fan the flames of excitement, and comfort with the chaos that often ensued.

This is also the story of a Minnesota kid who started out as a printer’s devil in his father’s small-town newspaper and ended up as the director of a the Walters, a gem of an art museum in Baltimore.  Of his quest to bring the “holy” into the museum experience, and of his struggle to reconcile his passion for acquiring and displaying sacred works of art with his suspicion that they were stolen.

About the author: Gary Vikan was Director of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore from 1994 to 2013; from 1985 to 1994, he was the museum’s Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Medieval Art.  Before coming to Baltimore, Vikan was Senior Associate at Harvard’s Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC.  A native of Minnesota, he received his B.A. from Carleton College and his Ph.D. from Princeton University; he is a graduate of the Harvard Program for Art Museum Directors and the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program.

An internationally known medieval scholar, Vikan curated a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions at the Walters, most notably, those devoted to the art of medieval Orthodoxy.  During his tenure as director, Vikan led the contextual installation of the museum’s collections, eliminated its general admission fee, and provided open access to all of its digital assets.  He led efforts to endow nearly two dozen museum positions, as well as an exhibition fund.  Vikan has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Carleton College, Goucher College, and the Salzburg Global Seminar; in October 2014, he was Leader in Residence at the Noyce Leadership Institute.  He is currently the Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carleton College.

Vikan’s books include Early Byzantine Pilgrimage Art (2010); Postcards from the Walters (2012); From the Holy Land to Graceland (2012), and his memoir, Sacred and Stolen: Confessions of a Museum Director (2016).




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