SALT LAKE CITY -- The man who brought national, even international recognition to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts is stepping down. Director David Dee will be honored Friday evening by University of Utah President Michael Young and others.
The blockbuster exhibit "Monet to Picasso" brought huge crowds, unprecedented attention and a new generation to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. National and international focus came when the museum returned a painting the Nazis had stolen to its French owners. And accolades came for never-before-seen Native American art. It all happened under the leadership of David Dee.
"That dream was shared by so many in this community -- business people, donors, patrons, volunteers who stepped up in really rewarding and significant ways -- that made those things possible," Dee said.
His tenure is being called the most successful period of growth in the museum's history. Dee acquired thousands of significant art works and increased membership 300 percent.
"He's done a terrific job of understanding the role of the museum as a university museum, as a local institution and as a regional institution," said Josh Kanter, of the Young Benefactor's Council at UMFA.
The vice chair of the museum's Special Exibition Committee, Anne M. Dolowitz, said, "His door was always open. He was always willing to listen to suggestions; and to see them actuated, was very exciting."
"[He] put us on the map in a way that the museum had not been before, so I have the utmost regard and admiration for David," said Mike Mattsson, former Vice President of Development at the University of Utah.
Dee says he just wanted to touch lives through art, and whether he stays on as curator or is lured away by another museum, everyone agrees he has played a huge role in the success of this Utah arts organization.