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Burchfield Penney Director Anthony Bannon Announces Retirement

Burchfield Penney Director Anthony Bannon Announces Retirement

Posted: February 23, 2017

Anthony Bannon, two-time director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State, has announced plans to retire on July 1—timed to coincide with the end of the center’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

“I would like to express my great appreciation to Tony Bannon for his more than 16 years of dedicated service—over two terms—to the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State," said Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, president of Buffalo State. "His wonderful leadership has raised the profile of the Burchfield Penney and expanded the reach of the center through a number of new community partnerships and education programs. We look forward to formally celebrating his career this summer at the Burchfield Penney’s 50th anniversary Art Auction and Gala in June.”

Carol Kociela, chair of the Burchfield Penney Art Center Board of Trustees commented, “Over the past five years, the Burchfield Penney Art Center has had the good fortune to be led by Anthony Bannon. His return in 2012 re-energized and brought new focus to the Burchfield Penney as a cultural center with programming in poetry, music, literature, dance, and more. Emphasis on scholarship has come with a commitment to archives and publications—and national focus on Charles E. Burchfield enhances Western New York. He has left his mark a second time! Thank you, Tony!”

“I couldn’t imagine a better exit line. We will have completed this anniversary year with gratifying public response to our series of events, so I figured I should take this opportunity to step down on an institutional high,” Bannon said. “This five-year run as director has been a gift, working with such a diverse, hospitable, energized, and intellectually accomplished staff—and a remarkably committed group of trustees.”

Bannon had retired once before, in 2012, after 16 years as the seventh and longest-serving director of George Eastman House, the International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester—but he was asked to consider returning for a three- to five-year engagement at the Burchfield Penney, where he had served as its second director from 1985–1996. The highlight of that first tour was the transformative gift from Charles Rand Penney of Western New York art, most notably a significant collection of Burchfield's art. The gift also included a leadership collection of Roycroft Community objects and other art, craft, and design objects by Western New York artists.

During the past five years, Burchfield Penney staff and trustees worked with Bannon to enhance the center’s national and international reputation through collection development, interpretation, and sharing; guided by a new comprehensive, facilitated strategic plan and demographic survey.

“Anthony Bannon is certainly among the most enlightened, prolific, and important museum directors in the nation,” said Mark Schaming, director of the New York State Museum with oversight over all museums in New York State. “In the course of his distinguished career, he has made a powerful, lasting impact not only at the Burchfield Penney Art Center but at museums and cultural institutions throughout New York State. As a transformative leader, he has set an inspiring standard for innovation and collaborations for all who hope to follow in his footsteps. I congratulate Dr. Bannon on his exceptional career and thank him for his tremendous contributions to museums and cultural education.”

During Bannon’s tenure, the center gained admission to the museum leadership organization, the Association of Art Museum Directors, and secured re-accreditation “with distinction” from the American Alliance of Museums.

The center’s collection has notably developed its holdings of Burchfield's watercolor paintings, drawings, and sketches, and, with its acquisition of archival holdings from the Burchfield family, it now can lay claim to serving its public as the largest dedicated museum in the world, as well as the 11th largest museum on a college or university campus in the United States.

Bannon brought an emphasis on unique exhibitions that included artists not commonly remembered as Western New Yorkers; presented challenging ideas in exhibition form, such as a complex accounting of Burchfield’s orientation to sound accompanied by a vinyl record produced and distributed by Righteous Babe Records; and were directed toward environmental and aesthetic issues. Fine exhibitions led to an increasing call for traveling exhibitions from the center. Presently there are six center exhibitions either now on loan or awaiting installation elsewhere.

Bannon lectures frequently, most recently at the FOTOfusion festival in Palm Beach, and forthcoming as the keynote for the Hermitage Artists’ Retreat annual Greenfield Prize celebration. During his tenure at the center, he completed a 10-year service as board chair of the Lucie Awards, often called the "Academy Awards in Photography." He also was granted one of the highest honors in photography, the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain’s J. Dudley Johnson medal for excellence in history and criticism of photography.

His recent book titles include Picturing Asia: Doubletake (Asia Society Hong Kong), Steve McCurry’s Iconic Photographs (Phaidon), Steve McCurry (Phaidon), Monika Merva: The City of Children (Kehrer), Cocalari: Alfredo D’Amato (Postcart), Affinity of Form, Photographs by Stanford Lipsey (with Louis Grochos, Powerhouse), Night Garden: Amanda Marchand (Datz), Roman Loranc: Absolution—50 Photographs from Europe (Photography West Graphics), Roger Eberhard: Wilted Country (with Benedict Wells, Scheidegger and Spiess).

Bannon will remain in Buffalo, complete several books in progress, and assist on select exhibitions with center curators.

Center trustees will soon commence a national search and appoint interim leadership until the selection of a new director to lead the center into its 51st year. Bannon will be celebrated at the Burchfield Penney’s Art Center’s art Auction and Gala on Saturday, June 17.

Read full press release.

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Kathleen McMorrow Heyworth, Burchfield Penney Art Center Head of Marketing and Public Relations | (716) 878-4529 |
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