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Mezzatesta named director emeritus

The University has reached a severance agreement with Michael Mezzatesta, who was forced out in May as director of the Duke University Museum of Art. As part of the package, Mezzatesta will become the Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans director emeritus of DUMA and advisor for construction of the Nasher Museum of Art, which is currently being erected on Campus Drive.


Mezzatesta's contract was not renewed by the University after 17 years of service, and he left the post this summer. The timing of his ouster was particularly notable because it came just as construction began on the Nasher Museum, DUMA's long-planned replacement. Provost Peter Lange said in May that he and President Nan Keohane agreed that Mezzatesta might not be able to carry the museum to the level of the University's expectations.


Nonetheless, Keohane said she was happy to keep Mezzatesta in the fold. "We are pleased by his willingness to make his considerable expertise available as the museum project moves forward," she said in a statement. "Dr. Mezzatesta was instrumental in helping site the new museum and pick its architect, Rafael Viñoly."


In a statement, Mezzatesta said he was honored by the title and that he looks forward to assisting in the completion of the Nasher Museum.


Lange said in May that Mezzatesta was "extremely disappointed" with the decision to find another museum director. A number of people within and outside the University expressed surprise at his dismissal.

During his tenure as director, Mezzatesta worked extensively on bringing the Nasher Museum from lofty aspiration to physical reality.  

He was also responsible for the growth of Friends of the Art Museum, an organization devoted to supporting DUMA.


"Dr. Mezzatesta was the best kind of client, engaged in the design process and committed to quality at every level," Viñoly said in a statement. "His input helped to shape the building's final form, and I am so pleased that his contributions have been recognized and his advice for the project will be available."


A national search is currently underway for Mezzatesta's replacement as director. DUMA curator Sarah Schroth is serving as interim director.


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