Dede Wilsey re-elected prez of Fine Arts Museums board with little fanfare

Diane "Dede" Wilsey and her Matisse

At a quarterly meeting on June 6, Diane “Dede” Wilsey was summarily re-elected as president of the Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF). The election marks her sixth consecutive term in a post she’s held since 1998, a tenure made possible when the board eliminated term limits in 2009.

She ran uncontested, and her unanimous endorsement by the board’s Nomination Committee was granted, in the words of Committee Chair Lisa Zanze, to be “mindful of the need for continuity” at FAMSF.

Earlier this year, Wilsey was the subject of harsh criticism by former and unnamed current employees at FAMSF, who anonymously submitted information to the Bay Guardian demonstrating that, among other things, Wilsey was directing staff members to assist with the maintenance of her personal art collection on museum time. Curator Emeritus Robert Flynn Johnson was even quoted in the New York Times as saying the museum was in a state of “Orwellian dysfunction” under Wilsey’s leadership.

Other allegations of mismanagement have included the ouster of several well-regarded, veteran members of the museum’s staff, such as European art curator Lynn Orr. Eyebrows were also raised over the exhibition of Wilsey’s son Trevor Traina’s photography collection at the deYoung last summer. Incidentally, Traina was re-elected to the FAMSF board last week after briefly retiring in April 2012, just before his show opened.

Despite the controversy, Wilsey’s position was never questioned at last week’s meeting. The need for “continuity” ostensibly stems from a gap in leadership at the museum following the death of Director John Buchanan in December 2011. The protracted recruitment effort for Buchanan’s replacement finally came to an end earlier this year, in the wake of the controversy, with the appointment of Colin Bailey, former deputy director and chief curator at The Frick Collection in New York. (On Thursday, Wilsey likened working with the selection committee to “herding cats.”)

It’s true that Wilsey has an extensive record of arts patronage in San Francisco. But with Wilsey retaining her post as president of the board, it’s unclear whether the "points of great concern amongst a broad range of professional staff" highlighted in an anonymous note sent to the Guardian this past February have been adequately addressed. The outcome of Wilsey’s re-election, perhaps, was the quiet dismissal of an ugly period in an institution otherwise concerned with beauty.


Posted by Guest on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

You think museums and their governance aren't important to a community?

Posted by Hortencia on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

but certainly not to The People.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

I'm so excited that Lucretia is turnin' all commie on us and using words like bourgeois and "The People!"

Posted by tim on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 9:28 am
Posted by Guest on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 10:02 am

you should worry your pretty little head more about things like jobs, housing and public safety.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

Her value and worth by far out ways any negatives, for example raised $100 million for the organization, the list goes on. End of story.

Posted by David Sloane on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

Colin Bailey and his husband Alan Wintermute
(of Christies Intrnl Auctions.. yes.. thats right)
are still getting familiar with museum staff & SF.
Lets hope CB has the wherewithall to keep himself
from being dog collared by Wilsey and demonstrate
more of a spine than any of her other socialite-weight
trustee appointments.
As for Trevor, I always thought it sounded like a
good dogs name. He is no doubt being groomed by
Mom as the next board prezident.. you watch.

Posted by Guest rich hunter on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

Wereomice xaikalitag larunlask - iziananatt nelpebtetoubs brietetum

Posted by Demaemiainkovxq on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

More ass kissing san francisco wanna be's. Disgusting!
This shrying beyatch is sickening and people who voted for her are too.
Recent articles about this creepy dictatorial and nasty moron point to the fact that people in San Francisco only care about money and ersatz power. Lynn Orr is the reason the de Young grew in status not that twisted neurotic narcisicist... Orr has been loved and respected by the folks at the Louvre for 40 years since her husband got his Phd there in the early 70's. Wilsey fired Orr because Lynn said that she was happy that Orrs 40 year relationship with La Louvre finally paid off with a contract with the de Young .Wilsey flipped out and wanted all the credit and fired Orr on the spot in a despotic tantrum that only stupid rich
People can get awat with. How can an Organization that directs a Museum full of 2 Billion dollars of assets owned by the Citizens of San Francisco be subject to the nasty and evil bs of a person like Dede Wilsey? She is a Tramp who happens to have money.Answer - an ass kissing weak sister Mayor like Ed frickin Lee.Its time to dump the existing high society syncophants that rule this City. These conceited idiots think that everyone else is trash. Recently the spoor -Trevor Traina- dede's Son -started a new company that allows you to buy a meeting with Important people like he and his Mom ......what the f...... Is going on here? Are we all niggers to the rich? Lets change things and dump these self important swells ... Btw , dear Trevor just bought a house for $35 Million .....while Lynn Orr suffered at the hands if his Mother and the kiss ass Board Members. I will not give another dollar to the de Young until Wilsey us ex Patron of the Arts and 45 year Member of Cofam

Posted by Guest SF Patriot on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

Colin bailey and his husband biff swell ?.gag me with a spoon . WHAT HAS THIS World come to? Please..... oh I forgot , he ran the Disney Museum and ........
Mondo Bizarro ....Barf

Posted by Guest sf patriot on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 10:04 pm