Steven Maklansky, director of the Boca Museum of Art since the summer of 2011, has announced his resignation from the museum as of Jan. 31, 2014, accordingly to a press release issued about a week later.
The press release suggests an amicable and conciliatory split. The museum’s board president, Dalia Stiller, is quoted as saying, “We thank Steven for his passion, vision, and leadership. We wish him success in all his future endeavors.” Maklansky’s statement reads as such: “The Museum is filled with wonderful art and interesting people and is now positioned for continued success. Working with the Board of Trustees and the Museum's dedicated staff, we have made significant improvements in all phases of its operations. The Museum is widely perceived as a modern, dynamic, relevant, and engaging institution.”
But the release never reveals the underlying cause for what feels like a sudden exit; Maklansky’s name is still listed as director on the museum’s website. As of this time, no museum staffers, past or present, have offered any more information as to the events leading to this announcement (“Transition plans will be announced in the very near future,” according to Bruce Herman, director of marketing and public relations).
But it’s easy to assume that some of Maklansky’s artistic decisions rubbed certain board and staff members the wrong way; several people close to the museum have grumbled off the record about them. Maklansky sought to democratize and expand the museum’s demographics by bringing in interactive, family-oriented exhibitions that bolstered sales while reducing its credibility as a serious art institution (the critically excoriated 2012 show “Big Art/Miniature Golf” springs immediately to mind). Among numerous staff shakeups, Wendy M. Blazier, a senior curator at the museum for 12 years, resigned about eight months into Maklansky’s tenure. It’s hard to believe there wasn’t a correlation.
For us at Boca Raton, Maklansky was affable and generous with his time, always readily available for a quote when requested. But when assessing his vision for the museum, I couldn’t help but think back to a 2009 interview I conducted with George Bolge, the Boca Museum’s director at the time, for a different publication. Bolge told me, “I don’t think, ‘Who are we going to entertain?’ as much as ‘Can we do really good shows that have a lasting impact? Or do we get a 25-foot alligator and put it in a box?’ We’ve always been educators, so the 25-foot alligator is never what we try to do. If you want to see that, you might as well go to a mall.”
We will post updates with more information if and when it arrives.