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Philbrook Announces New Director

IMA’s Scott Stulen begins in August

June 8 2016 (Tulsa, Okla.) The Philbrook Board of Trustees announced today that Scott Stulen (Stoo - lǝn) will be the museum’s next Director. Currently the Curator of Audience Experiences and Performance at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), Stulen will begin at Philbrook on August 22. This announcement concludes a seven-month international search following the departure of Rand Suffolk to the High Museum of Art last Fall.

“Stulen exemplifies everything we were looking for in our next director,” said Bill Thomas, Chair, Philbrook Board of Trustees. “Not only is he regarded as one of the nation’s rising stars in art museum management, but he shares the Philbrook philosophy of an art museum’s role in society, which is to be open, community-centric, and inspirational.”

While at the IMA, Stulen led the industry by creating and leading the first curatorial department of its kind in the United States dedicated to audience experiences. During this time his team launched over 125 new programs yielding a 320% increase in program attendance. This department and the initiatives they implemented were largely responsible for the major growth and community support experienced by the IMA.  Additionally, Stulen helped secure $1 million in funding over four years to support ARTx, a research and development initiative within the Audience Experiences and Performance Department, and saw IMA memberships grow from 5,320 to 14,850.

 “This is truly the right opportunity at the right time – for me professionally and my whole family,” said Stulen. “Philbrook shares my philosophy that museum’s need to put the visitor first by creating experiences that inspire. This innovative thinking is at the forefront of our industry; I look forward to building on the current success to shape Philbrook’s future.”

Philbrook has seen remarkable growth over the past eight years. Museum attendance has increased by 182% since 2008, centered on innovative public programs and original art exhibitions. The Philbrook Art Collection has grown by more than 25%. A privately funded institution, the Philbrook budget has grown from $5 million to over $8 million since 2008 to support the growth of visitation and programs.

“While Stulen’s record of accomplishments speaks for itself, what really spoke to the search committee was his commitment to his community – members, donors, visitors, online viewers; Scott’s passion transcends to all making him the perfect person to lead Philbrook,” commented Thomas.

While at IMA, Stulen established new, recurring programming platforms including Family Days, Artist Designed Mini Golf, Avant Brunch, College Nights, ARTxFIT, Adult Summer Camp, Mashup Lectures, B-Movie Bingo, Silent Night and several new performing arts commissions and series.

“Museums across the country are beginning to wake up to the idea that their role is more than being a physical building that displays notable works of art,” said Stulen. “Ahead of the curve, Philbrook already has a track record for inspiring, motivating, and bringing about cultural and social change through engaging our community in meaningful, fun and enlightening ways.”

One of Stulen’s most widely known accomplishments is his creation and production of the first ever Internet Cat Video Festival while at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program was the most attended event in the history of the Walker Art Center, bringing more than 10,000 people to the museum for the inaugural festival. Additionally, the program was screened in over 230 cities and twelve different countries since its debut in 2012.

Prior to his role at the IMA, Stulen served as Director of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Photographers, Project Director of at the Walker Art Center and Associate Curator at the Rochester Art Center (MN). He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Minnesota. He has shown his work all over the country, but in recent years focused his creative output to producing innovative programs and exhibitions with local, regional and national artists. He is also regularly performing musician and DJ.

“Tulsa appeals greatly to me and my family,” said Stulen. “This city feels on the brink of becoming a cultural leader and one of the most sought-after destinations to raise a family. Beautiful nature, genuine citizens, and an exciting downtown renaissance are a rare combination in one place.”

Stulen and his wife Rachel, community engagement leader for Thrivant Financial Services Company, will relocate to Tulsa with their two sons, Erlend, 5, and Oliver, 1, in late summer.

Stulen succeeds Suffolk who led Philbrook from 2007 to 2015 when he took the leadership role with the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

About Philbrook

Rooted in the beauty and architecture of an historic home gifted by the Phillips family over 75 years ago, Philbrook Museum of Art has grown to become one of the preeminent art museums across the central United States. Highlights of the Museum’s permanent collection include Renaissance and Baroque paintings from the Kress Foundation, one of the greatest surveys of Native American art anywhere, an exceptional body of southwestern and American works, and a growing modern and contemporary collection.

The Philbrook main campus spans 25 acres of grounds and formal gardens, and features an historic home displaying the museum’s permanent collection, as well as an architectural addition with auditorium, restaurant, library, and education studios. The satellite location in downtown Tulsa showcases highlights from the Philbrook modern and contemporary and Native American art collections, as well as the Eugene B. Adkins Collection and Study Center of Native American art.

Philbrook Museum of Art is open Tuesdays – Sundays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. CST.  Philbrook Downtown is open Wednesdays – Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays, 12 – 5 p.m. For additional information, visit


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Scott Stulen outside Philbrook Downtown

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Scott Stulen outside Philbrook Downtown

courtesy Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa

Philbrook Director Scott Stulen

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Philbrook Director Scott Stulen

courtesy Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa