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K-State News
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Kent Michael Smith to direct Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art

Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023


MANHATTAN — Kent Michael Smith, an experienced art museum leader, will become the director of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, effective March 1. 

K-State President Richard Linton made Smith's appointment following a national search. Smith currently serves as deputy director of the Madison Museum of Modern Art in Madison, Wisconsin.

"The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is a gem on the Manhattan campus," said Linton. "Kent has an extensive background in museum strategy, management and philanthropic success, and we're very thankful to have him joining the university in this role, as his skillset will enable us to grow the success of the Beach Museum of Art to the next level."

In his new role, Smith will lead museum staff, set programmatic priorities and oversee all operations and activities of the museum. He will provide leadership, vision and direction for the museum's development initiatives and will guide the museum in the creation of workplace and programmatic diversity, equity and inclusion. Smith will cultivate and maintain relationships with university and community constituents and direct the museum's future strategic plan update. He will serve as the curatorial authority on the university's collections.

"It's thrilling to join the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at this pivotal moment as we continue to shed the ongoing effects of the pandemic and look to reestablish how museums can best serve their ever-changing and adapting audiences," said Smith.

"I have long admired the forward-thinking initiatives and exceptional research energy of Kansas State University. I look forward to working with the incredible staff of the museum as we embark on new exhibitions and programming that support and advance that energy in ways that weave the arts into the fabric of the university's curriculum through student engagement, faculty partnership, and community collaboration."

In his current role at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art since 2021, Smith oversees museum functions that include administration, finance, human resources, exhibition installations, facilities, branding and communications. He provides counsel and support on all business matters, long-range planning and institutional advancement as well as coordinating the work of all organizational elements in the museum.

Before joining the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Smith served as director of communications and marketing for Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in Houston, Texas, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. He has also served as the museum coordinator at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park. Smith has delivered lectures, presentations and guest curator appointments across the state of Kansas and has been a member of the American Association of Museums since 2004.

Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emporia State University and a Master of Fine Arts from Ohio University. He served as an instructor, art editor/curator and assistant registrar/preparator at Ohio University.

Media contact

Division of Communications and Marketing


Download the following photo.

Kent Michael Smith

Kent Michael Smith has been hired as the next director of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University. Photo by Hedi Rudd.

Written by

Malorie Sougéy