The Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is pleased to welcome Robin Nicholson, executive director of the prestigious The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art as our Festival Juror for the 54th annual Festival.
An accomplished Cambridge art historian and innovative ‘outside the box’ museum leader, Nicholson joins The James Museum, having led three American art museums in Deputy Director and Executive Director/CEO roles since 2006 and most recently as the co-founder of the startup Art Museum Strategies. Director of Development Debbie Sokolov will serve as the museum’s Interim Executive Director. Nicholson will start in his position on June 1, 2023.
An imaginative strategic thinker, he has been at the forefront of re-envisioning the art museum model by maximizing exhibition planning, fundraising opportunities and public engagement initiatives for near and long-term ambitions. Nicholson is committed to the future of art museums and cultural organizations as diverse, equitable and inclusive institutions that reflect the communities they serve.
Since 2020, as Principal of Art Museum Strategies, Nicholson has worked with museums as diverse as the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Princeton University Art Museum. Previously Nicholson was the Executive Director/CEO of the Telfair Museums, Savannah, (2019-2020) and Executive Director of the Frick Pittsburgh (2014-2019), where he oversaw a six-acre museum that includes one of the best-preserved Gilded Age mansions in America, historic gardens and an art museum, founded by Helen Clay Frick, with exceptional examples of Renaissance to 19th-century European paintings and decorative arts.
From 2006-2014 Nicholson was Deputy Director for Art and Education and Head of Exhibitions at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where he oversaw many major exhibition projects, from multiple cultures, including the seven-year collaboration with the Palace Museum, Beijing. That collaboration culminated in October 2014 with the exhibition Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijingt. Also during his tenure at VMFA, the coordinated the ground-breaking exhibition of Iife sculptures from Nigeria in 2011, and the 2011 exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée Picasso in Paris, the most expensive and ambitious exhibition in VMFA’s history. The Picasso exhibit broke attendance records with over 236,000 visitors. He has worked with museums nationally and internationally, including Great Britain, Russia, China, Canada, France, Norway, and Italy.
Nicholson, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, was educated at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada, and the University of Cambridge, England.
To learn more, read The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art has a new executive director: Cambridge art historian Robin Nicholson By Maggie Duffy, Tampa Bay Times staff. Published May 31, 2023