Dr. Michael DeMarsche has enjoyed a distinguished career in museums spanning over 25 years. He has served as the Executive Director of five museums in the United States and Europe. He was the Founding Director of three of these museums, and constructed four award-winning museum buildings, requiring well over $100 million in private support. He has created the entire infrastructure of museums, from developing their vision and organizing their Board of Directors, to raising the funds necessary for their construction and operations.
Dr. DeMarsche was awarded the Ph.D. in art history from Stanford University in 1996. He wrote his dissertation on the French 19th-century painter Théodore Géricault. His dissertation adviser, the late Dr. Lorenz Eitner, has been called the “doyen” of Géricault studies. He conducted the majority of his dissertation research at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, and conducted further research at the Kunsthaus in Zurich, Switzerland; the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne, France; and the Musée Rodin, Paris. He was awarded the prestigious Samuel H. Kress Dissertation Fellowship in the History of Art, the Stanford University Lurcy Fellowship for French Studies, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Travel Fellowship for Dissertation Research in the History of Art, and the Stanford University Art Department Grant for travel to European Collections.
He was appointed in 1991 to the Art History faculty of Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1996, he became Assistant Professor of Art History and Director of the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gallery of Art. He directed the expansion of the gallery, and petitioned the Mississippi State Board of Regents to elevate the status of the complex to “the University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art.” He petitioned the same Board to initiate a Museum Studies major, which he was asked to design. This major eventually received accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the most important accrediting agency in the United States.
In 2000, Dr. DeMarsche became the Founding Director of Auburn University’s art museum, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. He directed the design and construction of the museum’s 40,000 square foot building and its surrounding gardens. The total cost of construction was $14 million. The building has been highlighted in numerous publications and winner of design awards.
In 2003, he became the President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. This complex housed an art museum, theater and school. DeMarsche directed a major renovation of the Center’s theater and school and oversaw the design and construction of a new building for the Center’s art museum. The project was completed in June 2007 and expanded the museum by over 48,000 square feet. When completed, the Fine Arts Center’s complex of buildings represented well over 130,000 square feet of space and cost an estimated $30 million.
In 2007 DeMarsche became the Founding Director of one of the most unique art museums in the world, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts in Yerevan Armenia. Construction of this vast, monumental complex of escalators, gardens, sculpture and galleries was initiated by the Soviets but abandoned with the breakup of the Soviet Union. Working with the city of Yerevan and the Armenian Government, DeMarsche directed the effort to construct and transform the monument into a contemporary museum of American art that could exhibit Gerard Cafesjian’s vast and highly respected collection of contemporary art and glass. When the center opened in November 2009, virtually every aspect of this 150,000 square foot monument had been renovated or newly constructed. The cost was approximately $40 million. Upon its opening, The New York Times described the Cafesjian Center for the Arts as “one of the most spectacular museum buildings to open anywhere…”
In 2010 DeMarsche became Executive Director of the Catalina Island Museum, the only museum dedicated to preserving the history of Santa Catalina Island. He oversaw the museum’s capital campaign and the construction of a new 18,000 square-foot museum building, The Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building. This $10 million building opened to the public in July of 2016.
Dr. DeMarsche is well known for his work with such visiting lecturers as:
- Robert Hughes, art critic for TIME magazine
- Bob Colacello, editor of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and biographer of President Ronald Reagan and former First Lady Nancy Reagan
- John Waters, artist, film director, and author of the Broadway play Hairspray
- Michael Kimmelman, European art critic of The New York Times
- Phillipe de Montebello, Director Emeritus of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Dr. DeMarsche has exhibited a wide range of internationally recognized artists and gallery owners, including:
- Dale Chihuly, glass artist who is often credited with elevating glass to a respected and important art form
- London photographers Anderson and Low
- Helmut Schuster of the Berlin gallery Galerie Schuster, with whom he organized Bettie Page Uncovered: The Photographs of Bunny Yeager
- New York artist Peter Max
- Libensky Brychtova, glass artists from the Czech Republic
Dr. DeMarsche has conducted interviews with a long list of important figures in the arts and music, including:
- Thomas Hoving, former Director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and author of a number of best-selling books on art
- Cynthia Lennon, best-selling author and former wife of John Lennon of The Beatles
- Joel Grey, Broadway actor and photographer
- Pattie Boyd, author, photographer and former wife of George Harrison of The Beatles and Eric Clapton
The Catalina Island Museum
- Interview with Pattie Boyd to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the release of the film A Hard Day’s Night
- Organized symposium The British Invasion Rocks America, noted Beatles scholar Martin Lewis interviewed Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees, Spencer Davis of The Spencer Davis Group, Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon and Emperor Rosko (Michael Pasternak) of Radio Caroline and BBC Radio 1
Acting as Curator
- Acting as the museum’s curator, the museum exhibited, for the first time, a number of special exhibitions, which included exhibitions dedicated to the photography of Pattie Boyd (once the wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton) and the year Marilyn Monroe lived on the island during World War II. Organized an exhibition dedicated to Bunny Yeager’s photographs of Bettie Page with Helmut Schuster of Galerie Schuster in Berlin, Germany. Also helped in 2016 to acquire for the museum a major exhibition of internationally known glass artist, Dale Chihuly.
- Purchase of two photographs by Pattie Boyd, George Harrison Fishing Near Lover’s Cove, Catalina Island, 1970
The Cafesjian Center for the Arts
- Michael Kimmelman, author, European art critic of The New York Times
- Pattie Boyd, best-selling author, photographer, and former wife of George Harrison of The Beatles and Eric Clapton
- Cynthia Lennon, author, former wife of John Lennon of The Beatles
Acting as Curator:
- Libensky Brychtova: For Armenia, organized with Jaroslava Brychtova of the Czech Republic. Exhibited selections of the couple’s work from the Gerard L. Cafesjian Private Collection, the largest collection in the world of works by these internationally known glass artists.
- Pattie Boyd: Yesterday and Today, organized with this London artist a selection of fifty photographs, documenting Pattie Boyd’s life with The Beatles and her recent work.
- Arshile Gorky: From the Gerard L. Cafesjian Collection, dedicated to 24 drawings and paintings of this influential artist’s work. All selections from the private collection of Mr. Gerard L. Cafesjian.
- Swarovski Light Socks. In 2007 Swarovski Crystal Palace invited 18 international designers and artists to create their own interpretation of a chandelier. The renowned New York architectural studio Diller, Scofidio + Renfro responded by creating their acclaimed “Light Sock.” This installation exhibits 24 light socks, all from the collection of Gerard L. Cafesjian.
- The Cafesjian Sculpture Garden, located at the base of the Cafesjian Center for the Arts, the garden presents a large collection of monumental sculpture by a diverse group of such internationally recognized figures as Fernando Botero, Lynn Chadwick, Jaume Plensa, and Barry Flanagan.
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
- Arthur Roger, New Orleans gallery owner, Dawn Dedeaux, Willy Bates, Jacqueline Bishop, New Orleans artists. Organized a symposium on the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the visual arts
- Robert Hughes, former art critic of TIME Magazine
- Thomas Hoving, former Director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Dale Chihuly, glass artist
- John Waters, artist and film director
- Cynthia Lennon, author and former wife of John Lennon
- Bob Colacello, writer for Vanity Fair magazine, biographer of President Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Editor of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine
- Robert Wagner and Jill St. John, actors
- Joel Grey, actor and photographer
- Directed the acquisition of numerous works into museum’s permanent collection. Institution’s collections strategy changed to include Latin American art and art of photography. De-accessioned a collection of drawings and ephemera by Charles Russell and re-directed funds into acquisitions. Acquisitions included:
- Self-portrait, tempera on canvas, by Paul Cadmus
- Moonrise over Hernandez by Ansel Adams
- Two Chihuly chandeliers and a collection of Dale Chihuly glass valued at $1.5 million that includes the historic Orange Hornet Chandelier
- Two photographs by London photographers, Anderson and Low
- Two photographs of Andy Warhol by Greg Gorman
- Times Square, New York, photograph, by Robert Polidori
- Self-portrait, by John Waters
- Robert Doisneau’s Paris, acquired from the Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibition Service, New York
- Ansel Adams and Edward Land: Art, Science and Invention, Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibition Service, New York
- Linda McCartney’s Sixties: Portrait of an Era, Organized through independent consultant Gabriele Abbott, LLC and the Paul McCartney Foundation, London
- Andy Warhol’s Dream America: Screenpints from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation
- James McNeill Whistler: Selected Works from the Hunterian Art Gallery of Glasgow Scotland, organized by International Art and Artists
- Annie Liebovitz: American Music, organized by Experience Learning Community
- Portraits from the Golden Age of Jazz: the Photographs of William P. Gottlieb, organized by Smith Kramer Traveling Exhibitions
- Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nikolas Muray, organized by Smith Kramer Traveling Exhibitions
- The Eclectic Eye, Pop and Illusion: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Collection, organized with Billie Milam Weisman of the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation, Los Angeles, California.
- Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, organized by International Art and Artists
- The Baroque World of Fernando Botero, organized by Art Services International
Exhibitions curated independently:
- Dale Chihuly at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, a retrospective exhibition dedicated to Dale Chihuly that originated at the CSFAC in 2005. Organized with Dale Chihuly Studios, Seattle, Washington. Over 80,000 people attended.
- The Creative World of Peter Max: A Retrospective. An exhibition that originated at the CSFAC. Organized with the artist and studio of Peter Max, New York. The exhibition traveled throughout North America.
- Dale Chihuly: From the Permanent Collection of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, exhibition of the FAC’s recent acquisition of Dale Chihuly glass
- KATRINA: Catastrophe and Catharsis, exhibition of contemporary artists throughout the United States, originated at the FAC and organized with the Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
- The Odyssey Continues: Four Centuries of French Painting from the Collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art, organized with the New Orleans Museum of Art.
The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art at Auburn University
- Philippe de Montebello, Director Emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Thomas Hoving, Former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, from the Houston Museum of Fine Art. Exhibition exhibited from September to December 2005.
Exhibitions curated independently:
- Advancing American Art, important collection of Modernist paintings from the permanent collection of Auburn University
- John James Audubon, print collection from the collection of Auburn University
- Max Papart, work of well known French printmaker
The University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art and The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art
- Organized symposium of various speakers who provided leadership to SNCC and “Freedom Riders” during Freedom Summer, 1964.
- Thomas Hoving, Director Emeritus, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- William Bailey, artist and faculty member of Yale University
- Allison Nordstrom, Director, Southeast Museum of Photography
- Frederick Allamel, independent scholar, Paris, France
- Among the works acquired as Curator of Collections for the permanent collection of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art:
- Milton Avery, Boothby Fisheries, 1934;
- Milton Avery, Seascape, n.d.;
- Emile Bourdelle, Lorsque Fut Reunie, n.d.;
- Charles Burchfield, Untitled, 1918;
- Charles Burchfield, Flowers, n.d.;
- Charles Demuth, Floral, 1920;
- Victor Higgins, New Mexico Landscape, n.d.;
- John Marin, Maine Landscape, 1928;
- Reginald Marsh, East River, 1952;
- Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Still Life, n.d.;
- Paul Signac, Le Port, 1927.
- The Lauren Rogers Museum selected by Sara Lee Corporation of Chicago to receive gift from their collection by 19th Century French painter Eugene Boudin.
Exhibitions curated independently:
- Herbert Randall: Faces of Freedom Summer. This photography exhibition originated at USM and recorded the events surrounding the summer of 1964 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi as documented by Guggenheim fellow and photographer Herbert Randall. Also aided in the organization of a symposium that occurred on the university campus composed of the leading figures of Freedom Summer. The exhibition and symposium the subject of numerous articles, including “Summer of ’64, Herbert Randall went south with his camera to chronicle a searing summer in America’s past,” People Magazine (July 5, 1999): 56-60.
- “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies: The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler and Seymour Haden,” The New Orleans Museum of Art, 7 July through 31 October 1999.
- Co-curated exhibition The Poetry of Sight: Old World Masters, New World Visions at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
- “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”: The Etchings of James Whistler and Seymour Haden, exhibited at the USM Museum of Art, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.
- The French Legacy, an exhibition of well over 90 works from the collections including, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Sara Lee Corporation, Chicago; the New Orleans Museum of Art; the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee, the Mobile Museum of Art; and the Walda Besthoff Foundation, New Orleans.
- 20th Century Posters from the Collection of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.
- Masters of the Print. Selection of over 50 master prints from collection of over 250 prints on loan to The USM Museum of Art.
- Re-installation of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art’s permanent collection.
- Interpreting the Modern Vision: 20th Century Prints from the Collection of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.
- The Arts of Native Mississippi Cultures and Beyond. North American Baskets and Pottery from The USM Museum of Art, the Memphis Pink Palace Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Art.
- Michael Lerner, founder and editor of Tikkun magazine.
- Matushka, New York photographer and breast cancer activist
- The NAMES Project: The AIDS Memorial Quilt
- A Day in the Warsaw Ghetto. Traveling photographic exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Exhibition was funded in part with a grant from the Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh.
Exhibitions curated independently:
- African Sculpture from the Collection of Dr. Ralph Proctor. Exhibition of traditional West African sculpture from the 18th and 19th centuries.
- The Greater Pittsburgh Commission for Women Present the Winners of the Gloria Fitzgibbons Awards. An exhibition funded by the Greater Pittsburgh Commission for Women.
- Margaret Sanger: Maker of History. Photographs from various collections, documenting the life of Margaret Sanger. Funded by the Laurel Foundation of Pittsburgh.
- “Our Daughters Maybe as Cornerstones.” Photographs documenting the contribution of women to Pittsburgh. From collections of Chatham College and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania.
- Matushka: “I am One Woman.” New York photographer, breast cancer activist and self-portrait artist, who appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. Organized with a grant from the Rachel Carson Institute.
RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND PAPERS DELIVERED:
- Grandeur Restored: The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, a monograph dedicated to the building, collections, and history of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (2007).
- KATRINA: Catastrophe and Catharsis. Exhibition catalog with an introductory letter from the honorable Mitchell J. Landrieu, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana (2007).
- Invited by Auburn University to deliver lecture honoring collectors Noel and Kathryn Wadsworth (2003)
- Contributed Introduction and several essays to Auburn Collects: The Noel and Kathryn Dickinson Wadsworth Collection, exhibition catalog published by the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University (2003)
- Monograph The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, published by the museum with a grant from the Lethander Family Foundation (2003)
- Published weekly column “Museum Matters,” in the newspaper The Opelika-Auburn News (2001-2003)
- Article “The ‘New’ Museum,” published in Auburn Magazine, Fall 2001, p. 52.
- Article “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies,” published in Arts Quarterly, New Orleans Museum of Art, July/August/September, 1999, pp. 12-14.
- “Paul Sandby: Trees in Great Windsor Park,” in Recent Acquisitions, The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, exhibition catalog, 1998, pp. 4-9.
- The French Legacy: The American and European Collections of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, an exhibition catalog published by the Lauren Rogers Museum (1998)
- Delivered lecture on the Influence of French art on American art of the early 20th century, the Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, Mississippi (1998)
- Delivered paper “Male/Female Imagery in the Work of Theodore Gericault,” to the annual conference of the Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies,” hosted by Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts (1997)
- Delivered paper “Art History and Women Artists,” at the Arlean Stevens Memorial Symposium, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art (1997)
- Delivered paper to the Phi Kappa Phi Chapter of the University of Southern Mississippi entitled “Excellence in the Arts” (1997)
- Delivered paper “The Influence of Dutch and Flemish Painting on John Greenwood’s Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam,” at the annual meeting of the South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Boston, Massachusetts (1997)
- Delivered paper “The Stylistic Re-direction of Theodore Gericault,” at the annual meeting of the College Art Association (1993)
- “The Romantic Classicism of Theodore Gericault: A Lost Source Re-discovered,” delivered at the Stanford University-University of California, Berkeley Graduate Forum in the Visual Arts (1991)
- Editor of Artists of Michigan from the 19th Century, a catalog published by the Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, Michigan, which commemorated the sesquicentennial of Michigan’s statehood (1987)
- Editor of The Elegant Brush, Chinese Painting Under the Qianlong Emperor, 1735-1795, a catalog of an international exhibition that traveled to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Also wrote the gallery guide for the exhibition (1985)
GRANTS, FELLOWSHIPS, AND AWARDS:
- Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center awarded the 2006 El Pomar Foundation Award for Excellence, which recognizes the single outstanding organization in the arts and humanities in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region by the leading foundation of the region (2006).
- 2002 Southeastern Museums Conference Publication Design Competition Certificate of Recognition, Second Place for New Website, Second Place for Invitation Package.
- The Printing Industry of the South, Inc. 2002 PIAS Graphic Awards, Best in Category: Promotional Materials and Membership Brochure; Award of Excellence: Promotional Materials and Case Statement
- 2002 Alabama Museums Association Conference Graphics and Media Competition Overall Excellence Award (Best in Competition) for Membership, Promotional and Development publications, Public Relations and Website
- $10,000 grant from the Littleton-Franklin Lecture Series of Auburn University for visiting speaker Thomas Hoving, Director Emeritus of The Metropolitan Museum of New York (2001)
- Received $5,000 grant from the University of Southern Mississippi College of the Arts for visiting speaker Thomas Hoving, Director Emeritus of The Metropolitan Museum (1999)
- Received summer research grant from the Office of the University of South Mississippi Vice President for Research to research exhibition on the American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner (1999)
- Received $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council for the exhibition/symposium “Faces of Freedom Summer: The Photographs of Herbert Randall.” Received grants from various individuals and from the following agencies for this project: The USM College of the Arts, the USM College of Liberal Arts, the USM Department of Art, The USM Public Relations Office, and the Office of the USM Vice President for Research
- Nominated for The University of Southern Mississippi’s 1998 Research, Scholarly Creative Activity Award in Applied Research Category (1998)
- Received grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council for speaker Allison Nordstrom, Director, Southeast Museum of Photography (1998)
- $20,000 grant from Jean Chisholm Lindsey, the Chisholm Foundation, for the publication of the exhibition catalog: The French Legacy, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art (1998)
- $3,000 from the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art to exhibit “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies: The Etchings of James Whistler and Seymour Haden” (1998)
- University of Southern Mississippi Department of Art Grant to deliver paper “Male/Female Imagery in the Work of Theodore Gericault,” the annual conference of the Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Boston, Massachusetts (1997)
- Grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council for lecture by Frederick Allamel, independent scholar, Paris, France, entitled “The Heidelberg Trial: Toward a Phenomenology of Ugliness” (1997)
- $10,000 grant from the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation for Appraisal and exhibition of print collection on loan to the USM Museum of Art (1997)
- Discovered a private collection of over 250 master prints, which included important works by Rembrandt, Whistler, Andrea Mantegna and Daumier. Arranged for a three-year loan of collection to the University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art. Appraised value of collection was over $200,000 (1997)
- Grant from the University of Southern Mississippi Department of Art to deliver paper “The Influence of Dutch and Flemish Painting of John Greenwood’s Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam” at the annual meeting of the South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (1997)
- Received grant from the USM School of Library and Information Science for guest lecture and exhibition by the printmaker Gordon Fluke of Cerillos, New Mexico (1996(
- Chatham College Central Research Fund Grant to research the American painter John Greenwood at the archives of the New York Historical Society (1993)
- Arranged for all funding through fund-raising events and grants from the Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and Chatham College for exhibition A Day in the Warsaw Ghetto.(1993)
- Awarded the Samuel H. Kress Dissertation Fellowship in the History of Art, 1991-1992
- Amon Carter Museum Travel Grant for the symposium: “Thomas Cole: ‘A Higher Style of Art’ (1990)
- Lurcy Fellowship for dissertation research in France during the year 1990-1991; a grant open to all Stanford graduate students writing on a topic in French language, culture or civilization (1990)
- Samuel H. Kress Foundation Travel Fellowship for dissertation research in the History of Art, 1990-1991.
- Stanford University Art Department Grant for travel to European Collections (1989)
- Stanford University three-year fellowship for graduate study in the History of Art (1989)