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Terry Riley makes an abrupt departure from Miami Art Museum

October 26, 2009 |  4:24 pm

Miami_alt Terry Riley, the head of the Miami Art Museum, surprised many in the art world this morning when he announced that he would be stepping down from his position after nearly four years. His resignation is effective immediately, according to Aaron Podhurst, the museum's chairman of the board of trustees.

The museum said that Riley will be resuming his role as partner at Keenen/Riley Architects but will continue to work with the Miami Art Museum as a consultant through June 30. He joined the museum in 2006.

Riley's resignation comes as the museum is readying an expensive -- and some say problem-plagued -- new home designed by Herzog & de Meuron that is scheduled to break ground in the spring with an opening day some time in 2013. (A rendering of the building is pictured above.)

In a statement sent out today, Riley said that his museum career was intended to be a temporary hiatus from his architectural work. "I never imagined that hiatus would extend for as long as it has," he said.

He added that he will return to Keenen/Riley, which he opened with John Keenen in 1984, but said that he will still be based in Miami.

Riley stated that the Miami Art Museum's new building is "on budget" and that last week it received the City Commission’s approval for a special permit to build the structure on publicly owned waterfront property.

"Given the confluence of these factors, I began considering the challenges facing the institution and my own goals for the future," he said. "Every museum director brings certain areas of expertise to the task at hand."

But Riley stopped short of providing a concrete explanation of why he has resigned.

"By stepping down as director and focusing my efforts, I also hope to create the opportunity for a new director, who could put as much energy into building the collection as I have been able to devote and will continue to devote into building the new structure," he said.

-- David Ng