January 24, 2005
Guggenheim chairman Peter B. Lewis, who has been in office since 1988, has resigned from his position, due, one report says, to differences between himself and museum director Thomas Krens.
Lewis, who has donated about $77 million to the museum— more than any other board member— stepped down from his post in mid-January. While Lewis and Krens could not be reached for comment, Lewis told the New York Times that he wished the museum would “concentrate more on New York and less on being scattered all over the world.”
Since taking over as the Guggenheim director in 1988, Krens has aggressively pushed for expansion, developing new branches in Bilbao, Spain; Berlin, Germany; and Venice, Italy, and developing future plans for museums in Taichung, Taiwan (pending public funding); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (held up by court injunction), and Guadalajara, Mexico (pending feasibility study). A branch in Las Vegas closed in 2001, although a segment of that museum, the Guggenheim Hermitage, is still open.
Anthony Calnek, deputy director for communications, said Lewis’s resignation would not effect the Guggenheim’s international path. “I think it’s safe to say that the foundation is continuing on its path of international growth.” Calnek adds that the expansion strategy has not hurt the museum’s bottom line, with global attendance at an all-time high of 3 million and the costs for the international museums being borne by local governments.