Christopher Scoates
Nanette L. Laitman Director
Museum of Arts and Design
Photo by Ryan Debolski


Scoates will join MAD on July 1, 2018
Board of Trustees of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) today announced the appointment of Christopher Scoates as the Museum’s next Nanette L. Laitman Director. Currently serving as the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Scoates will stay in that role through the end of the academic year. He will join MAD on July 1, 2018.

Posted 31 March 2018

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“I am deeply honored to have been chosen to lead MAD,” said Scoates. “I greatly admire the Museum’s track record of experimental exhibitions, and I look forward to building upon its rich history of craft, art, and design. With its dedicated staff and board, I know we can position ourselves as a leading museum in the twenty-first century. I am eager to begin developing new experiences for our audiences that will honor the history of MAD while also using art and design to challenge the way we think about the future.”
Speaking to the appointment, Board Chair Michele Cohen said, “Chris is a proven leader with over twenty-five years of experience in museum practice and education, whose interests encompass art, craft, design, experimental sound, and new media, and their relationship to contemporary culture. On behalf of the Board of Trustees of MAD, I am proud to welcome him, and I look forward to his tenure at the helm of the Museum.”
Michael Dweck, Board Treasurer and Chair of the Director Search Committee, added, “Chris distinguished himself throughout the interview process with his deep knowledge, passion, and clear vision for taking MAD into the future. He will be a phenomenal leader for the Museum in the years to come, and we look forward to working with him.”

A museum director, educator, curator, and writer, Christopher Scoates comes to MAD from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum, where he invigorated its programs with an eye toward advanced innovation and technology. In the course of his four-year tenure as the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director, he developed an experimental media division, identified new artists and designers to lead the academy’s programs, recruited diverse board leadership, spearheaded fundraising efforts, and secured significant gifts, raising Cranbrook’s profile both in the United States and abroad.

Prior to joining Cranbrook, Scoates served as Director of the University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach (2005–2014), where he provided programmatic and administrative leadership to promote innovation, collections accessibility, and interpretation. In addition to guiding the museum’s curatorial team in developing new directions and strategies for programming and outreach, he built the collections by identifying new acquisitions and soliciting donations. He previously served as Chief Curator of the University Museum of the University of California, Santa Barbara, between 2002 and 2005, during which time he also spent a year as Acting Director; and as Director of the Atlanta College of Art Gallery (1993–2000). In addition to his roles in arts administration, Scoates is the Founder and Co-Director of 5D: The Immersive Design Conference, an international conference that explores the profound impact of rapidly changing technologies on design for narrative media.
A native of Andover, England, Scoates is an alumnus of the Getty Leadership Institute. He holds an MFA in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Art History from the University of Florida. In his curatorial role, he has organized art and technology exhibitions that have offered unprecedented investigations into media’s impact on contemporary art and visual culture, including Lou Reed, Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe and Brian Eno: 77 Million Paintings. Other notable exhibitions include Custom Built: A Twenty-Year Survey of Work by Allan Wexler and LOT-EK: Mobile Dwelling Unit. His publications include Lou Reed: Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe (2016), which documented the aforementioned exhibition; Brian Eno: Visual Music (2013); and Bullet Proof ... I Wish I Was: The Lighting and Stage Design of Andi Watson (2011). Scoates has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues, and his writings have appeared in the New Art Examiner, Sculpture, and Art Papers.
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields and presents the work of artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill. Since the Museum’s founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum’s curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design, and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving twenty-first-century innovation, and fosters a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design.
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