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Menil Collection Director Steps Down

Josef Helfenstein made the announcement today in Switzerland.

Josef HelfensteinJosef Helfenstein. Image courtesy of The Menil Collection, Houston. Photographer: Lynn Lane


Menil Collection Director Josef Helfenstein has announced he is stepping down after a twelve-year tenure.

Vance Muse is with the Menil Collection. He says Helfenstein has left a lasting impression.

“More and more Houstonians know where the Menil is,” Muse says. “I think he has connected the Menil more to the community.”

Word of Helfenstein’s departure comes just months after the Menil broke ground on a new drawing institute. Helfenstein led the charge in funding the project through the $110 million Campaign for the Menil. Muse says they’ve met 80 percent of that fundraising goal.

“We’re in the middle of implementing a terrific site plan, making the Menil which is kind of beautifully tucked away in the museum district, making it ever so more visible and accessible,” Muse says. 

Helfenstein will take over as director of the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland. The board of the Menil Collection plans to begin an international search for the next director.

Officials say under Helfenstein’s leadership, annual attendance at the museum doubled, the value of the endowment grew by more than 50 percent, and the museum gained more than 1,000 works of art. 

The Menil Collection opened in 1987 with the goal of making art accessible to the public. Admission is free of charge. 


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