Museum News

Homeward Bound

Josef Helfenstein, Director of the Menil Collection, leaves Houston for Switzerland's Kunstmuseum Basel.

Edited by Nick Esquer June 30, 2015

Image: Lynn Lane

After 12 years as director of the Menil Collection, Josef Helfenstein will be stepping down at the end of the year to take a post as director of Switzerland's Kunstmuseum Basel, one of the country's largest and oldest museums. Helfenstein will take a nine-month sabbatical before assuming the new position in his native Switzerland in September of 2016.

Menil Drawing Institute at dusk, looking past the west entrance courtyard

Under the direction of Helfenstein, the Menil Collection's annual attendance doubled and its endowment increased by 54 percent. More than 1,000 works were added to the collection, including pieces by Claes Oldenburg, Richard Serra and Kara Walker.

The announcement comes just months after the museum broke ground on its new $40 million Menil Drawing Institute. The free-standing building is the first in the US designed for the study and exhibition of modern and contemporary drawings. 

The Menil's board plans to begin an international search for the next director.


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