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Dr. Richard Brettell Elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Richard Brettell

Dr. Richard Brettell, founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at The University of Texas at Dallas, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and others, the academy honors exceptionally accomplished individuals and convenes these leaders to examine new ideas and address issues of importance to the nation and the world.

“As this honor makes clear, Rick is widely recognized as one of the leading voices in the world of art,” said UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson, who holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership. “He’s always looking for new platforms to make art more accessible throughout the world. Rick Brettell is simply a remarkable scholar and educator.”

Brettell, who also holds the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies and the Edith O’Donnell Distinguished University Chair, was one of 276 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors elected to this year’s class.

“With its origins in the 18th century and its conjoining of the arts and the sciences in the great tradition of liberal learning, the American academy is particularly important for me,” he said. “Although I am an art historian by undergraduate and graduate training, I am the founding director of the first institute of art history to be formed at a university known primarily for the sciences and technology, thus extending the traditional disciplinary boundaries of art history.

“Now, at the end of my career, to be recognized by the National Academy of Arts & Sciences seems all the more important.”

“As this honor makes clear, Rick is widely recognized as one of the leading voices in the world of art. He’s always looking for new platforms to make art more accessible throughout the world. Rick Brettell is simply a remarkable scholar and educator.”

UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson

Dr. Inga Musselman, UT Dallas provost, vice president for academic affairs and the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair of Academic Leadership, said Brettell’s election into the academy is well-deserved.

“The University of Texas at Dallas has been so fortunate to have Rick Brettell — and all the knowledge, passion and vision that he possesses — to grow our University’s footprint in art history and art collections,” she said.

Election to the academy is one of many honors Brettell has received. Late last year, Brettell was appointed to the board of directors of the Hermitage Museum Foundation, which contributes to the preservation and promotion of the museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and its more than 3 million objects.

About the Academy

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences is both an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members and an independent research center convening leaders from across disciplines, professions and perspectives to address significant challenges.

Brettell is one of the world’s foremost authorities on impressionism and French painting from 1830 to 1930. He has been an international museum consultant with projects in Europe, Asia and the U.S., including the Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation, the largest corporate gift to the arts in American history.

Brettell also helped create the French American Museum Exchange (FRAME), a formal collaboration of museums in the U.S. and France that serves as a catalyst for cultural exchange. As a result of his work with FRAME, he received a commandeur certificate from the Order of Arts and Letters. The award is the most prestigious of its type in France.

Brettell’s museum experience includes serving as the Eugene McDermott Director at the Dallas Museum of Art and Searle Curator of European Painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The induction ceremony for this year’s new academy members is scheduled for October. Brettell will join other new inductees, including singer, songwriter and activist Joan Baez; lawyer and former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.; author Ann Patchett; and Texas-based independent filmmaker Richard Linklater. Previously elected members include Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Margaret Mead, Robert Frost, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Martin Luther King Jr. More than 13,500 members have been elected since 1780.

Dr. Brian Berry, the Lloyd Viel Berkner Regental Professor at UT Dallas and 2005 winner of the Vautrin Lud Prize, considered the “Nobel Prize for Geography,” was inducted into the academy in 1976.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].