MONTCLAIR, NJ  – The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) Director, Lora Urbanelli, has announced her intent to retire in summer 2020, after 11 years of service at the museum. 

According to a release, Urbanelli is the ninth director of the museum since its inception in 1914 and has held one of the longest tenures in recent history. 

According to Frank Walter, president of the Board of Trustees, Urbanelli guided the museum through a chapter of extraordinary institutional advancement, and with her leadership, provided continuous creativity and inspiring service. 

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“Lora marked several key milestones while at MAM and she deserves huge credit for shepherding many team achievements during her tenure,” said Walter.  “While we congratulate her and wish her the best in her retirement, she will be greatly missed by the board, and MAM’s dedicated staff and many volunteers.”

Urbanelli took on the role at MAM in 2009, after having been Director of the Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center in Rockland, ME. Prior to that, she had served as Interim Director, Asst. Director, and Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs over the course of 20 years at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. She was trained in studio art, art history and museum studies at Rutgers University and Syracuse University.



In the midst of the Great Recession of 2009, Urbanelli was hired. Though MAM had faced considerable challenges during this time, she worked strategically and effectively with the board and staff to stabilize the museum’s finances and rekindle optimism. 

Leveraging the 2002 building expansion, the museum flourished under her watch, with Urbanelli and her team successfully guiding MAM through a decade of a refocused mission, invigorating exhibitions and programming, and enhancing facilities and operations. 

Under Urbanelli’s leadership, MAM continued its tradition of acclaimed exhibitions and upgraded management of its storied collections.  MAM’S New Directions contemporary art initiative broadened the museum’s exhibition roster and elevated its path forward.  Continuing a lasting and inspiring legacy, MAM completed wholesale cataloging of its Native American collection and reinstalled and reenergized its popular Rand Native American Art Gallery.



One of the most significant contributions of Urbanelli’s directorship was her personal mandate to make the institution more accessible to all audiences through a robust arts education program.  Under her leadership, the operations team opened MAM’s Ceramics Studio, the Greyer Community Arts Studio, the Nathaniel Harris Community Entrance and the Vance Wall Education Center lobby.  As a capstone initiative, Urbanelli is also coordinating a multi-year design phase of, and laying the groundwork for, transforming the museum’s exterior with the proposed ArtPark at MAM.

“While I am ready to start a new chapter in my life, I am proud and honored to have been the caretaker of this grand institution and its legacy,” said Urbanelli.  “As I pass the baton to the next director, MAM will remain a vibrant and revitalized arts center with an incredible team of staff, board and volunteers, ready to serve its members and the community.”

Urbanelli will be celebrated at the Montclair Art Museum’s May 2020 Gala.