Telfair Museums Appoints David Brenneman as New Executive Director and CEO

Staff Report

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

Telfair Museums is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. David A. Brenneman as its new Director and CEO, effective September 1, 2024. Brenneman brings a wealth of experience in museum leadership and a deep commitment to cultural stewardship, positioning Telfair Museums for continued growth and community engagement.

Formerly the Director of the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University, Brenneman supervised the transformational $30 million renovation of the museum’s signature I. M. Pei building and found ways for their substantial collection of more than 45,000 works of art to become more accessible and engaging for the Indiana University community and residents of southern Indiana. Prior to his directorship at the Eskenazi Museum of Art, he spent twenty years in various curatorial leadership positions at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, serving as the Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the time of his departure in 2015.

Brenneman has forged a number of important institutional partnerships, and was the project leader for Louvre Atlanta, a multi-year series of exhibitions that brought many of the Louvre’s treasures to the U.S. for the first time. In 2008, he was recognized for his work on this project with one of France’s highest cultural honors, Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres). At Indiana University, he created groundbreaking partnerships with the Tsinghua University Art Museum in Beijing, China, and the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

Brenneman is passionate about building art collections; developing appealing and important special exhibitions; and expanding the reach and impact of art museums as educational institutions. During his 30-year career, he has overseen the acquisition of a broad range of art, from ancient to contemporary, including work by such artists as Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Elizabeth Catlett, Julie Mehretu, Anila Agha, and Samuel Levi Jones. He has organized and overseen numerous special exhibitions, including the First Emperor’s Terracotta Army from China, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and highlights of the costume collection of the actor Glenn Close. At Indiana University, he helped to establish full-time positions for Kindergarten through 12th-grade outreach and the first art therapist in an American university art museum. 

Brenneman studied art history at Penn State and then attended Brown University, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. Early in his career, he worked at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, and as an Assistant Curator at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven.

"I am deeply honored and excited to lead Telfair Museums, Georgia’s oldest art museum, into its next chapter. The museums' rich history, dedication to artistic excellence, and community impact present a remarkable opportunity. I look forward to collaborating with the staff, board, patrons, and the Savannah community to further enhance Telfair's reputation as a cornerstone of cultural life in Georgia,” said Brenneman.

Telfair’s Board of Trustees selected Brenneman after a comprehensive search process after the departure of Benjamin Simons, the previous executive director and CEO, in March. "We are delighted to welcome David to Telfair Museums," said Josh Keller, Board Chairman. David’s visionary leadership and proven track record make him the ideal leader to guide Telfair into the future."