The McNay Art Museum has hired Matthew McLendon as its new executive director and CEO, replacing Richard Aste after his six-year tenure.

McLendon served as director and chief curator of the Fralin Museum of Art in Charlottesville, Virginia since 2017, and prior to that spent six years as curator of modern and contemporary art at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.

In his career, McLendon has focused on community engagement and education, which he said positions him well for the McNay.

“My background in museum work has always been about and focused on the museum within the community, thinking about the museum as a bridge between art and artists and the communities that it serves,” McLendon said. 

Aste, who announced his departure in June, was not involved in the national search for a new director but said he is pleased with the result, both in terms of McLendon’s art acumen and his personal qualities.

“I’ve long admired Matthew, first as a fellow curator, and now as a fellow art museum director,” Aste said. “I’ve had an opportunity to witness his strengths in empathy, integrity, and intelligence.”

The quality of empathy, Aste said, “is the new number one trait in leadership today. … Someone coming in strong in empathy will continue to make sure that stakeholders are seen and heard.”

Darryl Byrd, McNay board member and co-chair of the search committee, echoed McLendon’s strengths as praised by others. 

“Matthew stood out from numerous highly qualified candidates as someone with a unique combination of business acumen, arts expertise, infectious positive energy and a true love for the integral role art museums play in the communities they serve,” he said.

McLendon will start at the McNay Feb. 13.

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...