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Harvard Art Museums Director Martha Tedeschi to Step Down in June

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Harvard Art Museums Director Martha Tedeschi will step down on June 30 after more than seven years in the role.

Tedeschi, who took over the role shortly after $250 million in museum renovations in 2016, steered the museum through the Covid-19 pandemic and established free admission for all visitors during her tenure, a program that began this June.

She said she is “filled with confidence” about the future of the Harvard Art Museums in a statement to the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication.

“It has been a true honor to be at the helm of an institution so completely dedicated to research, teaching, professional training, and expanded public access,” Tedeschi said.

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Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 described Tedeschi’s free admission policy as “groundbreaking” in a statement to the Gazette. Since the policy’s implementation, the museums have nearly doubled its visitors.

“Martha’s stewardship has ensured that this wonderful resource will continue to thrive, even as she steps away from the helm,” Garber wrote in an emailed statement to Harvard affiliates.

Tedeschi also collaborated with campus groups including the Harvard University Native American Program and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, worked to digitize the museums’ collection for public website access, and emphasized the museums’ role as a vehicle for teaching and outreach through increased virtual programming and faculty outreach.

Though Tedeschi will pass down expanded access and outreach, her successor will also inherit controversy over the name of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum due to the Sackler family’s ties to the co-owners of Purdue Pharma, the company that developed and sold OxyContin. Arthur Sackler died before OxyContin was developed, but activists contend the marketing practices he developed popularized the drug.

A proposal to remove Sackler’s name from the building is currently under review by the University.

Harvard is set to start an immediate search for Tedeschi’s successor.

—Staff writer Tess C. Wayland can be reached at tess.wayland@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @tess_wayland.

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