Mia curator Patrick Noon with Vincent van Gogh's "Pietà" in 2015 while previewing the exhibit "Eugene Delacroix and Modernity." (Photo by Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune)
Patrick Noon, who acquired dozens of masterpieces for the Minneapolis Institute of Art during a 22-year tenure, will retire at the end of January.
A specialist in French and British art from the 1700s and 1800s, he served as senior curator of paintings, raising the museum’s international profile with blockbuster shows and enriching its collection with 150 paintings including Claude Lorrain’s “Pastoral Landscape” and Alexander Roslin’s “Comtesse d’Egmont Pignatelle.”
In an interview, Noon said he’s particularly proud of the 2003 exhibition “Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism.” Organized with the Tate Britain and Metropolitan Museum of Art, it included 150 paintings drawn from 87 museums and private collections.
The exhibition showed the mixing of French and English cultures after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. In it, Noon argued that French art was influenced and possibly revitalized by Anglo-Scottish themes, and techniques between 1820-1840.
“That was something I had been working on for years, and that was an opportunity to really bring textbook masterpieces to Minneapolis,” he said. “It was probably the most important show I ever organized.”
A Mia spokesperson said the museum has not yet begun its search for a new senior curator of paintings or department chair.
Noon joined the institute in 1997 after 20 years at the Yale Center for British Art, where he was Curator of Prints, Drawings and Rare Books. He supervised the 1998 reinstallation of the European and American collections, and was curatorial chair during a 2004-07 museum-wide reinstallation.
Noon said that he had been thinking about retiring for sometime, but delayed his plans after former Mia executive director and president Kaywin Feldman announced her departure in December 2018. He felt that he needed to stay on and help steer the massive encyclopedic art museum.
While he looks forward to relaxing, he wants to work on projects that interest him, including consulting for Mia should it need him. “My expertise never retires,” he said.
How does he sum up his legacy?
“I’m particularly pleased with the way we were able to drive conservation and the amount of preservation work we do to make the collections presentable,” he said. “I’ve acquired some marvelous things… I just want my legacy to be that I did a good job.”