Kelly Taxter has left her position as director of the Parrish Museum after less than a year on the job. According to a letter sent to colleagues by Taxter earlier on Wednesday and obtained by ARTnews, she wrote of the decision to leave that it was one she “deliberated and did not make lightly.”
“It was something she worked out with the board as being the right thing to do at this point in time,” Parrish board president Mary E. Frank told ARTnews. She added that Taxter, starting at the museum after the Covid-19 shutdown, “brought an entirely new vision for the museum and its programming and outreach. Thanks to her, we were able to broaden our horizons in terms of supporters.” Citing young supporters like Larry Milstein, Frank said, Taxter “attracted a new demographic, a younger group and was cultivating the next generation [of the board].” Last summer’s fundraising gala was “record-breaking,” said Frank.
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Taxter started her position in March 2021. The museum’s previous director, Terrie Sultan, stepped down in June 2020, after 12 years on the job. Taxter inherited from Sultan’s tenure a 34,400-square-foot new building on 14 acres by architects Herzog & de Meuron, completed in 2012. The museum was closed for coronavirus lockdown for part of 2020, reopening in spring 2021.
“The Parrish,” Taxter added in her letter, “is an important cultural center on the East End that brings together many communities through its exhibitions and educational programs. There has been great excitement and energy around the institution since I began, and I thank the staff for their dedication and hard work through a transitional and busy time.”
Contacted by ARTnews, Taxter did not offer further comment. Before joining the Parrish, Taxter was the Barnett and Annalee Newman Curator of Contemporary Art at the Jewish Museum in New York; prior to that, she co-owned the gallery Taxter & Spengemann, also in New York.
The Parrish was founded in 1897 and holds in its collection 3,000-plus artworks. It has a reputation as both a museum for the local community and a summer destination for well-off New Yorkers at their Hamptons homes for the season, many of whom are regulars at the museum’s annual summer fundraising gala. Over the past two years, during Covid-19, numerous New York galleries have opened Hamptons outposts, giving the area more of an art scene. Taxter told Bloomberg this past May of that phenomenon, “I think Covid—and peoples’ relocation [to the Hamptons]—created a new kind of community out there, one that’s more visible and more active.”
The Parrish’s search for a new director, Frank said, begins next month.