LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Speed Art Museum announced Wednesday that Stephen Reily will end his tenure as director in spring 2021.
Earlier this year Reily informed the museum’s board of trustees of his intention that his fourth full year as director would be his last. He will depart in spring 2021, once his successor has been identified and successfully onboarded with the organization.
“Once I realized that I wanted to serve the Speed for longer – but not forever – I set a number of milestones defining what I hoped to accomplish during my tenure,” said Reily. “Those milestones were built around our mission of “inviting everyone to celebrate art, forever,’ and together with my leadership team, our colleagues, and volunteers, we will achieve most of those milestones by early 2021. While continuing that work, we’ve also faced the unexpected task of operating the Speed (and reopening safely to the public) during a global pandemic. I love the Speed, my colleagues, and my city, and I’ve focused my energy on building an organization that can attract a director they all deserve.”
The museum is launching a national search to identify Reily’s successor under the direction of the museum’s board of trustees chair-elect, Roger Cude. Cude named a seven-member search committee in May, which will engage a national search firm with the goal of recommending a candidate to the board of trustees in early 2021.
Reily, a local business and civic leader, joined the Speed as interim director in early 2017, one year after the museum had completed a $65 million renovation. Later that year he was named permanent Director and has reinvigorated the museum through his tireless focus on accessibility, diversity, and relationship-building, through exhibitions, acquisitions, film, programming, fundraising, and community outreach.
During his tenure, Reily helped the Speed redefine its relationship to its community and state. He successfully increased contributed revenue by 50 percent over three years (to a record-breaking $4.8 million in the current fiscal year) and launched “After Hours,” the monthly arts celebration that has regularly gathered over 1,000 to the museum (now delivered virtually). In addition, he promoted equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion by implementing several initiatives, including the Speed’s “Community Connections” partners, through programming, and through a “Speed for All” membership that offers a free family membership for anyone for whom cost is a barrier to entry. His efforts to improve racial equity were focused in several areas, including workforce, collections and exhibitions, community outreach and education, and board representation. The results of the museum’s efforts and its goals for the future can be found in the 2020 Racial Equity Report.
Reily also focused on expanding the Speed’s mission as Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum, delivering art education programs to classrooms across the state and a long series of exhibitions that reflect all the diversity of Kentucky. He also established critical partnerships with museums like the Perez Art Museum, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Nasher Museum of Art, the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University.
“With a 20-plus-year commitment to Louisville and to our museum, Stephen’s leadership was distinguished by building strengths into the ‘new’ Speed that will outlast him, including an especially strong leadership team,” said Brooke Brown Barzun, the Speed Museum board of trustees chair. “Thanks to his foresight and generosity, we are now in the fortunate position of having over a year to manage a smooth transition.”