NAPLES — Breaking a 26-month spell without a helmsman, the Philharmonic Center for the Arts on Tuesday named Frank Verpoorten the new director and chief curator for the Patty & Jay Baker Naples Art Museum.
Verpoorten is the cultural attaché for the representation of the Government of Flanders (Belgium) to the U.S. Verpoorten oversees cultural programming, from exhibitions and performing arts to concerts, lectures and a film program. He serves as director of art and culture for Flanders House in New York City, which organizes and hosts Flemish culture and activities in the U.S.
A native of Brussels, he has served a curator at the Dahesh Museum of Art, a museum of 19th-century European academic art in New York, and as director of visual arts and exhibitions curator at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and the Newhouse Center for contemporary art.
Verpoorten is fluent in Dutch and French and speaks advanced German and Spanish as well as English. His wife, Rachel, is a botanical artist and the couple have two children. Philharmonic Center Director and CEO Kathleen van Bergen said the family will relocate to Naples, where Verpoorten will begin duties before year end.
van Bergen said she had hoped to bring Verpoorten to Naples for the announcement Tuesday. But he is unable to leave New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which has shut down transportation in the city.
The search committee looked at close to 1,000 international resumes, scouring other countries as well as the U.S. before it interviewed 15 candidates by phone and brought six to Naples, van Bergen said. The reasoning is that Naples' museum should see itself as member of the international arts community.
Other emphases: That the director also have an appreciation for the local arts and artists, strong curatorial talent and a perception of the museum's role in the community.
van Bergen says she was "beyond excited" with the choice of Verpoorten. In a statement, Jay H. Baker, Phil board member and museum board chair, said he was "delighted" to have Verpoorten in the post: "He brings the international knowledge and high caliber visual arts leadership that we need here in Naples."