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NYT’s knock at Dede Wilsey—‘dysfunction’ at the Fine Arts Museums

Monday, March 18, 2013

This may shock the sensibilities of those who only know socialite and Fine Arts Museums board president Dede Wilsey as “Dynamo Dede” of the Chronicle’s society pages: the New York Times has a fairly unflattering article about her. Noting that the museums have been without a director since John Buchanan’s death 15 months ago, a piece published Friday catches up with the ousters of longtime staff members and the leaked internal e-mails that have embarrassed the De Young and the Legion of Honor. Curator emeritus Robert Flynn Johnson is quoted as saying the museums are “in a state of Orwellian dysfunction.” Seems much of the bad karma centers around Wilsey. An excerpt:

Ms. Wilsey, for example, has been criticized for using museum personnel to tend to her personal collection; the Fine Art Museums’ decision to exhibit her son’s photography collection last summer was called nepotism.

“One person is in control,” said Denise B. Fitch, a member of the museums’ 44-person board of trustees who called herself a friend of two people who were fired.

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