IMA losing chief right before big fundraising effort

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Maxwell Anderson is leaving his post as director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art just as the institution is preparing to launch a capital campaign it hopes will make up for financial pain inflicted by the recession.

"The mood of the board and senior staff is we want to carry on with the strategic plan we developed over the past year," IMA spokeswoman Katie Zarich said Friday morning.

Anderson will become director of the Dallas Museum of Art in January, the museum announced Thursday afternoon. The museum has yet to officially announce a capital campaign, but that was Anderson's goal last year, when he began the search for a chief development officer.

At the time, Anderson said the campaign would focus on building the endowment, and possibly creating more endowed positions like his. The CEO's slot was endowed in 2007 by a $10 million gift from Melvin and Bren Simon. Anderson earned $557,882 in salary and other benefits in the 2010 fiscal year, the museum's tax return shows.

Anderson oversaw a host of initiatives, including acquiring the Miller house in Columbus and opening a new art and nature park, 100 Acres, that have been well-received by national press and the public. His weakness, according to one former employee, was handling big donors and dedicated volunteers, who tend to have their own ideas.

The IMA saw two fundraising chiefs, Fred Duncan and Kathy Nagler, depart during Anderson's tenure. One top donor, Wayne Zink, stepped down from the board of governors, though he declined to explain his reason for doing so.

The departures came as the IMA struggled with a reduced endowment and budget cuts. The IMA twice revised its budget in 2010 because of lowered fundraising targets. The budget for the year ended June 30 was $21.2 million.

The endowment recovered to about $347 million in July from $275 million in January 2009. But the museum is ratcheting back its reliance on that fund, which means annual gifts take on more importance.  

Cynthia Rallis joined the IMA in January as its chief development officer, and board Chairman Steve Russell said she is doing a "wonderful job." "The reality is our staff is so outstanding now," he said.

Russell said he's in no hurry to find a replacement for Anderson, whom he called a "visionary in the art world."

"The key is getting the right person," he said.


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