The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has named Neil A. Barclay its new chief executive officer. Bringing more than three decades of professional experience and leadership in the management and development of art and cultural institutions, Barclay will assume the leadership post of the Detroit-based global cultural institution effective Jan. 15.
“The board of directors and staff are very excited to welcome a new CEO with Barclay’s diverse experience,” said The Wright Museum Board Chairman Eric Peterson. “With the changing dynamics and environmental challenges facing art and cultural institutions in the years ahead, the acumen of a proven leader like Barclay is certain to augment our efforts to engage a global community in exploring and celebrating the perseverance and achievements of African Americans.”
“I’m incredibly excited about this new chapter with The Wright,” said Barclay. “The museum is one of the most important cultural institutions in the U.S. and Detroit is an incredible city undergoing a remarkable transformation. I’m thrilled to be part of the history that is in the making.”
A former attorney, Barclay was most recently executive director and CEO of the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in New Orleans. During his five-year tenure, the institution’s budget increased by more than 40 percent including lead gifts from the nation’s major art philanthropists.
Barclay’s experience also includes seven years of service as associate director of the Performing Arts Center for the University of Texas at Austin and service as founding president and CEO of Pittsburgh, Pa.’s August Wilson Center. Additionally, he was instrumental in capital development planning for Los Angeles’ Vision Theater, originally built by Howard Hughes for the city.
Barclay has demonstrated his personal commitment to art and culture as a peer panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, the Gerbode Foundation and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. A leading national presenter of contemporary performing and visual arts, Barclay serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the regional arts organization South Arts.
He is currently a member of the College of Communications and Fine Arts Advisory Board for Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, his undergraduate and law school alma mater.
Barclay replaces interim chief operating officer George Hamilton who assumed the temporary leadership role in June 2018 following the retirement of former CEO Juanita Moore. Hamilton will return to his previous role as a member of The Wright Museum’s Board of Trustees.