Executive Director, the Walters Art Museum
Gary Vikan was named Director of the Walters Art Museum in 1994 after serving as the museum's Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Medieval Art since 1985. Before coming to the Walters, Dr. Vikan was Senior Associate for Byzantine Art Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. A native of Minnesota, he received his B.A. from Carleton College in 1967 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1976.
Dr. Vikan's vision was the driving force behind the renovation of the Centre Street Building in 2001, and the contextual reinstallation there of the museum's ancient, medieval, and 19th-century collections, as well as the contextual reinstallation, in 2005, of the museum's Renaissance and Baroque collections in the Charles Street Building. During his tenure Dr. Vikan secured three major collections: the John and Berthe Ford Collection of the Arts of India, Nepal and Tibet; the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Collection of South-East Asian Art, and the John Bourne Collection of the Arts of the Ancient Americas; since 1995, he has assembled at the Walters the finest collection of Ethiopian art outside of its native country. Under Dr. Vikan's leadership the Walters has received Mellon Foundation challenge grants to endow six curatorial positions, two curatorial post-doctoral positions, and a conservation scientist. Two hallmarks of his directorship have been the change in the Walters' name from "gallery" to "museum" in 2000 and, in 2006, the elimination of its general admission fee.
An internationally known medieval art scholar, Dr, Vikan has curated a number of the most significant exhibitions in the museum's history, including Silver Treasure from Early Byzantium (1986); Holy Image, Holy Space: Frescoes and Icons from Greece (1988), Gates of Mystery: The Art of Holy Russia (1992) and African Zion: The Sacred Art of Ethiopia (1993). Trained as a Byzantinist, he has published and lectured extensively on topics as varied as early Christian pilgrimage, medicine and magic, icons, the Shroud of Turin, neuroscience and aesthetics, and Elvis Presley. His most recent book, Early Byzantine Pilgrimage Art, will be published in 2010 by Dumbarton Oaks; he is currently working on a book-length study entitle Pilgrimage to Graceland. Dr. Vikan is adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins University, Department of Art History, and a faculty member in the Johns Hopkins University School of Continuing Studies.
In 1999 Dr. Vikan was appointed by President Clinton to his Cultural Property Advisory Committee, a post he held until 2003. He was honored by the French Minister of Culture and Communication with Knighthood in the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) in 2000. In 1999, he was the American Association of Museum Directors' representative to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. He has served or is currently serving on a number of boards, including Maryland Citizens for the Arts, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, the Maryland Humanities Council, the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors' Association, and St. Timothy's School. He currently serves on advisory boards for the Getty Leadership Institute and the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University.