Bonnie Pitman, a guiding force in remaking and advancing the reputation of the Dallas Museum of Art, recently joined the faculty of the School of Arts and Humanities.
As Distinguished Scholar in Residence, she is charged with creating new methods of education, focusing much of her expertise in technology and emerging media in helping to build the national reputation of the school.
“The University is fortunate to have such an innovative thinker join our faculty,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal. “Attracting distinguished leaders indicates high-caliber academics and research. The University and the community will surely benefit from Bonnie Pitman’s wealth of experience.”
Pitman arrived at the DMA in 2000 as deputy director and was named Eugene McDermott Director in 2008 before departing in May 2011. Under her leadership, the museum found new ways to engage audiences, dynamically build the collections and present major exhibitions and innovative programs to the community.
“I am honored to be joining the innovative faculty and research staff in the School of Arts and Humanities, and I do so largely because UT Dallas is deeply committed to creating new models for learning and collaboration,” said Pitman. “The leadership and support of Provost Wildenthal and Dean (Dennis) Kratz is vital to the development of interdisciplinary education and research programs in the School. A primary aspect of my work will be to strengthen the relationships between UT Dallas and other educational, cultural and health-related institutions in our region, nationally and internationally.”
Under Pitman’s leadership, DMA initiatives like the Center for Creative Connections challenged visitors to engage with art. Late Nights at the DMA brought performances, concerts, readings, film screenings and family programs into the galleries. Pitman co-authored a book, Ignite the Power of Art: Advancing Visitor Engagement in Museums, which documented a seven-year research project that examined how people connect with art at the museum. She also served as editor and an author of The Dallas Museum of Art, Guide to the Collection.
“UT Dallas aspires to be at the forefront of higher education, and a transformative leader such as Ms. Pitman is the ideal person to help the University achieve that goal,” said Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.
Kratz said Pitman’s use of technology in education also makes her a great asset to the University. He cited the smARTphone Tours at the DMA that introduced interactive content to exhibits as an example of how Pitman’s expertise fits the University’s focus, especially through its Arts and Technology (ATEC) program.
“She has expertise in using technology to transform the educational and aesthetic experience. Working beside our other faculty, she will fashion a new model for integrating the arts throughout the educational experience,” said Kratz.
Pitman joins another former director of the DMA on faculty. She will co-teach a course in the fall with Dr. Richard Brettell, Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetics at UT Dallas. Pitman will also work closely with Brettell as the co-director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums (CISM).
“Bonnie’s vision and deep museum experience will bring a wealth of new connections and ideas to CISM,” Brettell said.
The American Association of Museums recently awarded Pitman the Distinguished Service Award, the profession’s highest recognition. She has degrees in art history from Sweet Briar College and Tulane University and has worked as a director, educator and curator at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Canada, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives and Bay Area Discovery Museum.