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A museum vet takes charge at the Driehaus Museum.

 

Richard P. Townsend is a man of many abilities. He has curated shows on subjects ranging from Caravaggio to Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, and held key administrative posts at institutions from the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Calif., to New York’s Museum of Biblical Art. Settling in as the new executive director of the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, he offers a few thoughts on his latest gig.

Design and decorative arts are big at the Driehaus. Will this focus be something new for you?
My first directorship was at Price Tower Arts Center in Oklahoma, housed in Frank Lloyd Wright’s only true skyscraper. There, we explored the blurred boundaries of art, architecture and design. I’m excited to call upon that experience here.

What is your vision for the Driehaus?
I strongly believe that the museum—small, but nimble and innovative—will take its place in the community as a must-experience cultural destination. Chicagoans can come learn about the glories of the Gilded Age—our sweet spot—but also about the realities of that time, including class, racial and economic disparities.

You have so much career diversity. Any favorites?
I have to have my Caravaggio and my Turner, but I can’t imagine life without Louis Comfort Tiffany, Frank Lloyd Wright and Theaster Gates. 40 E. Erie St.