Art museum names fundraising chief

The fundraising department at the Indianapolis Museum of Art soon will have a new leader who held a similar job at the National Museum of Science and Industry in London.

The IMA announced Tuesday that Cynthia Rallis is the new chief development officer. She starts work Jan. 1.

As IBJ reported in June, the IMA's search for a new fundraising chief is the first step toward a major campaign, which has yet to be announced.

“Cynthia brings to the IMA significant expertise in developing fundraising programs and in managing several large development operations within the museum field,” CEO Maxwell Anderson said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to welcome Cynthia to the IMA and are confident that her experience will lead the museum in strengthening its fundraising model.”

Rallis, who worked in banking before turning her career to museums, was director of development for the National Museum of Science and Industry in London from 2005 to 2009. She more than doubled the museum's private philanthropic support, according to an IMA news release.

Before the job in London, Rallis was director of development for the Cleveland Museum of Art. She has also served as deputy director at the UCLA Hammer Museum and manager of administration for the Getty Education Institute for the Arts in Los Angeles.

“I am pleased to be joining the Indianapolis Museum of Art at such an exciting moment in its long and distinguished history,” Rallis said in a prepared statement. “I especially look forward to getting to know the Indianapolis community that does so much to promote and support not only the museum, but the diverse range of cultural activities.”

Rallis received her master’s degree in art history in July from the Univesity of London's Courtauld Institute of Art. She also has a master's of business administration with a concentration in marketing and finance from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA and a bachelor's in theater from Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

The IMA gets most of its operating revenue from an enviable $316.7 million endowment, but heavy losses in late 2008 and 2009 prompted $7 million in budget cuts through the end of fiscal year June 30.

Anderson said in June that he realizes the museum needs to be less reliant on the endowment. “The fundraising functions haven’t been as assertive and front-and-center as with other institutions,” he said at the time. “We need to be more resolute and hard-working in finding support for the museum.”

In the midst of the belt-tightening, the museum has lost two development directors and a top-donating board member. The last development director, Kathy Nagler, took on a lesser job in March, then left the museum last summer. Nagler succeeded Fred Duncan, who left in August 2009 to become executive director of the cancer agency Little Red Door.

In addition to the staff departures, the board of governors lost its leading fundraiser, Wayne Zink, when he resigned in November 2009. The museum’s 375-seat reception hall, the Deer-Zink Pavilion, is named for Zink and his partner, Randolph Deer.

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