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American Visionary Art Museum founder and director Hoffberger set to step down in 2022 after nearly 30 years

Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, the founder, director and primary curator of the American Visionary Art Museum, plans to retire in early 2022 after nearly 30 years, the museum said in news release Monday night.

“I consider myself the luckiest woman I know,” Hoffberger, 69, said in a news release. “It has been such a fantastic privilege to imagine, birth, and to help our American Visionary Art Museum flourish over these past decades, alongside the most wonderful hardworking staff imaginable. Every beautiful thought, opportunity to communally-inspire some greater good we have joyfully undertaken.”

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Hoffberger founded the museum with her late husband, art collector and philanthropist LeRoy E. Hoffberger, with the idea beginning in 1984 and grand opening in 1995. Throughout her leadership, the museum has won dozens of awards and secured a national and international reputation for its exhibits that combine art, science, philosophy and humor with a focus on social justice and betterment.

American Visionary Art Museum founder and principal curator Rebecca Alban Hoffberger stands in front of artist Johanna Burke's mixed media work, "Another Green World," during a walk-through of "The Secret Life of Earth" in October 2019.
American Visionary Art Museum founder and principal curator Rebecca Alban Hoffberger stands in front of artist Johanna Burke's mixed media work, "Another Green World," during a walk-through of "The Secret Life of Earth" in October 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

After retiring, the art curator plans to write an original science play about the friendship between Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain. The museum said she will be fulfilling a “long-delayed” dream and continue her “signature talent for seamlessly combining art, science, and humor.”

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Hoffberger’s final curated exhibition will be on display from Oct. 9, 2021, to Sept. 4, 2022. Titled “Healing & The Art of Compassion (And the Lack Thereof!),” it will center on the twin forces for creating greater good in society: healing and compassion, the museum said.

A farewell fundraising gala is planned for Hoffberger on Nov. 20, and there will be another celebration held April 3, 2022.

“Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and, in fact, the entire art world will forever be indebted to Rebecca for her vision in creating this groundbreaking living testament to human creativity, imagination and ingenuity,” AVAM board chair Christopher Goelet said in a news release. “She and LeRoy imagined the possibility of a place where intuitive artists could evidence the rich and varied experiences of their everyday lives.”

The museum’s board of directors appointed m/Oppenheim Executive Search to conduct an international search for Hoffberger’s successor.

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