Erik H. Neil
Director and CEO
Erik Neil became Director of the Chrysler Museum of Art in October 2014. Neil is known in the museum world for the breadth of his artistic interests, strong management skills, genial personality, and collaborative approach to work and leadership. He strives to make the good even better. Past and present colleagues laud his intelligence, transparency, ability to build community, and visionary pragmatism.
Neil began his museum career in 1999 as director of the Newcomb Art Gallery of Tulane University in New Orleans, where he also served as an adjunct art history professor. He was praised for improved strategic planning and growth; deficit reduction; funding and budget growth; and assuring the safety of the collection in the face of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In 2006, after a short stint as director of exhibitions and programs at the American Federation of Arts in New York, Neil became Executive Director of the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, N.Y. There he led a nine-month, $1.5 million complete museum modernization and initiated its reaccreditation process with the American Association of Museums. He also revamped the exhibition program to focus on modern and contemporary art, with spotlights on regional artists, photography, and design. He expanded the Heckscher’s financial capacity through new grants, donations, and fundraising events.
Neil served as the director of the Academy Art Museum from 2010–2014 and was credited with revitalizing a small but solid institution. Under his leadership, the museum reorganized its staff and prioritized strategic planning. Neil’s passion for community partnerships, especially with Talbot County’s African-American leadership, led to the establishment of an annual Juneteenth celebration in the birthplace of the great civil rights leader Frederick Douglass. The museum also saw a significant increase in annual appeal giving, membership, art travel, and new grant sources, and a successful $2 million challenge of gifts, pledges, and planned gifts grew its endowment.
Neil’s education includes a B.A. (1986) in modern European and American history from Princeton University, and both a Ph.D. (1995) and M.A. (1991) in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University. He also earned a certificate in museum management (2003) from the prestigious Getty Leadership Institute in Berkeley, Calif., and has pursued leadership and professional development opportunities through the American Alliance of Museums.