Leader of Bruce Museum to retire
GREENWICH — Peter Sutton, who has served as executive director of the Bruce Museum for 17 years, announced his retirement on Wednesday.
Sutton, a scholar of Dutch and Flemish art, is credited with advancing the museum’s mission and transforming it from an institution displaying exhibits of local interest into one of the most dynamic mid-size museums in the region with over 78,000 visitors a year. During his tenure, Sutton accomplished his goal of mounting internationally acclaimed art exhibitions and convincing local collectors to share their works with the public in the acclaimed Greenwich institution.
“Peter has increased the museum’s base of support through highly effective national and international partnerships and fostered a community of committed and enthusiastic patrons,” said Jan Rogers Kniffen, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, in a statement. “Notably, he has helped set the museum on a path toward an exciting future, with the recent public announcement of a transformative, $60 million capital expansion and renovation project.”
Sutton said in a statement it’s been an honor to serve the museum and the community. He wasn’t immediately available for further comment.
In a 2011 interview with Greenwich Time, Sutton said he was most proud of the quality of shows the museum mounted and the talented staff it assembled.
The Boston native said running the Bruce was “surprisingly similar” to heading large-scale operations like the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.
“You must offer the best product, namely exhibitions and educational programs, possible, maintain fiscal discipline and build community support for one’s vision and mission,” he said. “The Atheneum has the advantage of having a splendid and extensive permanent collection, but the Bruce resides in a town which has the highest concentration of outstanding private art collections in the country.”
In an age of instant gratification, museums can still provoke public interest, the director said.
“In the present competitive environment for entertainment and edification, museums have the advantage of offering encounters with original works of art and rare scientific specimens,” he said. “There is no ‘virtual’ substitute for this life-changing experience.”
Sutton graduated from Harvard University in 1972 and got his master’s degree from the institution in 1975. He received his doctorate from Yale in 1978.
The scholar had curatorial posts in Philadelphia and Boston before his years at Wadsworth. He also worked as the senior director of Christie’s Old Master paintings department and a senior art adviser at Citicorp.
A committee has been put in place by the museum’s Board of Trustees to search for a new executive director and to guide the Bruce in its time of transition.