David Odo, director of academic and public programs, division head and research curator at the Harvard Art Museums, has been named the next director of the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia following a national search. His appointment is effective June 26.
“In addition to serving as an academic institution that pursues and publishes scholarship, the Georgia Museum of Art is the official state museum with a strong sense of public service,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Dr. Odo’s experience and vision make him an excellent fit for this position. I am confident he will bring fresh ideas and new energy to the museum while building upon its distinguished history of excellence.”
In his current position, Odo oversees the Harvard Art Museums’ academic and public engagement programs, including Harvard University course collaborations, student programs, public education and community partnerships. As a member of the senior leadership team, he led planning for an institution-wide research and learning ecosystem for the museum’s recently completed five-year strategic plan and reaccreditation package.
During his tenure at Harvard, Odo established numerous initiatives that connected departments and schools across the university with the museums. These initiatives include the Ho Family Student Guide Program, which trains undergraduates from a wide variety of STEM and humanities backgrounds to lead original tours of the museum for the public. In addition, he created a program for nuclear medicine that brings physicians from Harvard Medical School and its teaching hospitals into the museum for a yearlong series of art-centered discussions.
A visual and material anthropologist, Odo’s primary research and teaching interests lie in the anthropology of art, the body in art and material culture, and the intersections of art and medicine. An expert on 19th-century Japanese photography, Odo has published and lectured widely on the subject as well as on museum pedagogy.
“I’m thrilled and honored to be joining such a talented team of colleagues at the Georgia Museum of Art. Together, we will build on a foundation of success by working closely with UGA students and campus partners to co-create the future museum through innovative research, teaching, experiential learning and public service projects,” Odo said. “I’m especially excited to work with the museum team, students and community partners to engage a greater number of Georgians throughout the state with the phenomenal resources of the museum.
Odo earned his D.Phil. in social and cultural anthropology from the University of Oxford and his B.A. from Columbia University in East Asian studies. He has held numerous research fellowships, including at Harvard University, the Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the University of Tokyo.
His appointment concludes a nationwide search led by an eight-member search advisory committee chaired by Toby Graham, university librarian and associate provost. The committee was assisted by Phillips Oppenheim, a professional executive search firm specializing in nonprofit searches.
Odo will succeed William Underwood Eiland, who served as director of the Georgia Museum of Art from 1992 until his retirement on March 31.
Under Eiland’s leadership, the Georgia Museum of Art saw its collections, stature and reach grow dramatically. Since he became director, the museum has won more than 250 awards for its publications, programming, staff and exhibitions and earned a reputation as one of the leading university art museums in the country. Over that same period, the museum’s collection has grown exponentially to total more than 17,000 objects.
The Georgia Museum of Art opened to the public in 1948 in the basement of the old library, now known as the Administration Building, on the university’s historic North Campus. Today the museum occupies a contemporary building of more than 79,000 square feet in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the university’s East Campus.
The museum’s permanent collection consists of American paintings, primarily 19th- and 20th-century; American, European and Asian works on paper; the Samuel H. Kress Study Collection of Italian Renaissance paintings; and growing collections of southern decorative arts and Asian art.