Kerry Brougher, the director of the long-delayed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, is leaving his post.
The move comes just weeks after the Academy postponed the museum’s opening date again, pushing it to sometime in 2020.
In a statement, the Academy Museum Board said that Brougher would “return to his roots in the art world.”
Though Brougher’s leadership has been a source of grumbling within the museum staff for some time, it is still surprising for him to depart before the museum opens.
The board said it would soon begin a search for a replacement. The board said it would work with senior staff to ensure an efficient transition. In a memo to Academy staff, CEO Dawn Hudson said that Brougher would “remain available to the Museum for calls and consultation as needed.”
Brougher came to the Academy in 2014 from the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. At the time, some questioned whether his background in fine art would be a good fit for a movie museum. Some of his detractors have also raised concerns about his leadership style, saying the project lacked clear lines of authority that it was difficult to get consistent direction.
“We thank Kerry for his dedicated service on behalf of the Museum. His work over the last five years on the Museum’s construction and in-depth collections well positions us to move into the next phase of this ambitious project,” the board said. “Kerry’s strong curatorial team will continue to work with us toward the Museum’s opening, and a search for a new Museum Director will begin shortly. Our primary goal remains to create the best possible motion picture museum for visitors.”
Brougher’s top deputy, Deborah Horowitz, left the project in April. She was in charge of all curatorial efforts at the museum.
In December, she and Brougher announced that the museum would open within one year. But the project has been beset by further delays. In her internal memo, Hudson said that the building construction — at Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard — would be complete in September. “The Museum is well position to move toward completion and its grand opening,” she said.
The museum has also struggled to raise funds to meet its $388 million campaign goal. As of last year, the campaign had stalled at around $281 million, and no major gifts have since been announced.
“It has been a privilege for me to work with this Board, our donors, the great Renzo Piano, and all of my colleagues who have participated in creating this unique Museum,” Brougher said in a statement. “We are just weeks away from completing construction of the buildings, ending the first phase of this project, and our collection has grown substantially. The Miyazaki and Regeneration exhibitions will be the first of their kind. I’m very proud of the work done by our amazing team. Now is the right time for me to pass the baton.”
Brougher will be named “founding director” of the museum. The museum’s chief operating officer is Brendan Connell, and its top fundraiser is Katharine DeShaw.