Arthur Blumenthal’s career as a museum professional began at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and spans 35 years at some of America’s finest art museums. Dr. Blumenthal has lived and worked in Florence, Italy, and traveled extensively throughout Europe. His two international exhibitions, "In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Aura" (2016-17) and "Cosimo Rosselli: Painter of the Sistine Chapel" (2001) introduced two long-forgotten Italian masters to modern art history.
Dr. Blumenthal is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Association of Art Museum Directors for "academic constributions to the museum profession unparalleled by anyone in the State of Florida." He is Director Emeritus of Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, where he served for eighteen years. The Cornell, one of the top teaching museums in America, houses Florida’s oldest and one of the most distinguished art collections in the Southeast.
Dr. Blumenthal’s leadership brought the Museum international acclaim with groundbreaking exhibitions, innovative programs, and a recent $7.5-million expansion that tripled the Cornell’s gallery space. The Cornell, which received a multi-million endowment under Dr. Blumenthal’s tenure, was the only Florida museum to receive six consecutive Institute of Museum Services GOS grants between 1994 and 2000. Travel writer Arthur Frommer named the Cornell Museum “one of the top ten free attractions in the world,” as published in USAToday in 1996, and Orlando Weekly selected Dr. Blumenthal as “Central Florida’s Best Art Museum Director” on three occasions, most recently in July of 2006.
Dr. Blumenthal’s thorough knowledge of museum standards has made him a sought-after museum consultant. As a member of the American Association of Museums Accreditation Visiting Committee since 1993, he has conducted dozens of on-site museum evaluations throughout the U.S. Dr. Blumenthal served on the National Endowment for the Arts’ museum panel, which determined program grants for museums throughout the U.S. He acted as a private consultant for the Estate of Eleanor D. Wilson, helping to found the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum of Art at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Recently, he was a member of the Program Committee of the American Federation of Art’s Directors Forum in New York.
Dr. Blumenthal and Dr. Everett Fahy, chairman of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are the only two American scholars selected by the Council of the Presidency of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (Academy of the Arts of Design) in Florence, Italy, to the Comitato Scientifico (Scholarly Committee) that will organize an exhibition for the Fifth Centenary of the death of Cosimo Rosselli, the famous Florentine artist who painted the Sistine Chapel walls with Botticelli and others. Dr. Blumenthal returned Rosselli to his rightful place in art history with a groundbreaking exhibition at the Cornell Museum in 2001, titled Cosimo Rosselli: Painter of the Sistine Chapel. The exhibition’s honorary patron was Italian Ambassador Ferdinando Salleo, and the show included loans from Florence, Rome, the Vatican, and France, in addition to numerous American museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Fogg Museum of Art, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Philadelphia Museum and others.
Dr. Blumenthal also organized an international symposium that included Rosselli scholars from Italy, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. The show received critical acclaim in The Art Newspaper, The New York Times, “CBS Sunday Morning,” and in other media. He also wrote and edited the 260-page exhibition catalogue, which featured essays by the participating scholars.
Dr. Blumenthal traveled to Rome in the spring of 2007 on a Petters International Initiative Travel Grant to research the great Neapolitan artist, Francesco de Mura, for an American exhibition in New York City (venue/date TBA). He has authored numerous books and catalogues, including an entry in The Dictionary of Art on Giulio Parigi (1575-1635), an early Baroque architect/scenographer and the subject of Dr. Blumenthal’s published doctoral dissertation, Giulio Parigi’s Stage Designs: Florence and the Early Baroque Spectacle (Grove Press: New York,1984).
As art educators, Dr. Blumenthal and his wife, Kären Love Blumenthal, have escorted many groups to Europe for educational tours. They are co-authoring a book titled Loving Art: A Path to Astonishing Pleasures, which offers the individual a new way to approach looking at art. Dr. Blumenthal’s popular course, “How to Look at Art,” was great success at the Cornell Museum for a dozen years, and was taught to graduate students at Rollins College and now throughout the world.
Prior to coming to the Cornell Museum in 1988, Dr. Blumenthal was Director of The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland at College Park. One of the highlights of his tenure was a major exhibi-tion, 360 Years of Art and Architecture in Maryland, which celebrated the 350th anniversary of the State of Maryland. The show drew numerous visitors and enjoyed widespread national media attention.
From 1975 to 1982, Dr. Blumenthal was the first professional Curator of Art at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. While there, he organized Theater Art of the Medici (published by the University Press of New England, Hanover and London, 1980), an exhibition of a hundred works that traveled to Harvard University and was the first showing of the Medici theatrical designs in the U.S. The wide-ranging exhibition, which received major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, borrowed works from the Metropolitan Museum and from libraries in Florence and New York.
In 1970, Dr. Blumenthal traveled to Italy to speak at an international congress on stage design, assisted by an American Council of Learned Societies Travel Grant. At the Hood Museum, he cared for a collection of 15,000 works from Renaissance to modern, organized exhibitions, and wrote catalogues and articles on Renaissance, Baroque, American, and contemporary art. He also created a lecture series and film festival in conjunction with exhibitions and spent much time researching the distinguished Dartmouth collection.
A resident of Florence in the 1970s, Dr. Blumenthal worked on his doctoral dissertation on a Walter W. S. Cook Travel Grant under the direction of Professor Irving Lavin of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. From 1968 to 1974, Dr. Blumenthal was the first Curator of the Elvehjem Museum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While there, he wrote important articles on Tiepolo and Vasari and managed a collection of several thousand objects.
From 1966 to 1967, Dr. Blumenthal was a museum intern/Ford Foundation fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he worked in the Print Department under A. Hyatt Mayor and in the Medieval Department/The Cloisters under William Forsythe. During his internship, under the tutelage of these two remarkable museum curators, Dr. Blumenthal developed a great love for museum work that remains with him to this day.