Ira Wagner Named Executive Director of Montclair Art Museum


[March 26, 2021, Montclair, NJ] – Montclair Art Museum (MAM) is happy to announce that Ira Wagner has been appointed the Museum’s Executive Director. He serves as the 10th Director since the Museum’s founding in 1914.

Upon long-time Director Lora Urbanelli’s retirement last spring, Wagner stepped in as Interim Director pending the arrival of a successor. When the pandemic forced the Museum to shutter operations in March 2020 and suspend its director search–Wagner, along with staff and trustees–guided the Museum through unprecedented challenges. MAM successfully preserved its human, physical and financial resources; pivoted the Museum to virtual operations; and launched both digital and programmatic transformations of curatorial, education and visitor services. While most public venues in New York and New Jersey remained in lockdown, MAM reopened with COVID-safe, hybrid operations starting in September 2020. Its exhibitions have since rebounded to pre-pandemic levels of attendance.

Museum president Frank Walter believes Wagner is uniquely competent and an ideal leader for the Museum, in this community, at this time.

“Ira combines hands-on experience as a Wall Street banker, non-profit financial manager, university-level arts educator, practicing artist, and published photographer. Moreover, Ira and his wife Denise raised their family in Montclair and for over 30 years have been active supporters of this region’s cultural, education and civic organizations. Stemming from his 15 years as a trustee and prior positions as MAM’s Treasurer and later Director of Strategic Initiatives, he is situationally-aware and respected by staff and trustees alike. His appointment was unanimously supported.”

Wagner is honored to step into this leadership role for the Montclair Art Museum, a cultural mainstay of our community for over 100 years. “As Interim Director, I have seen over the last year the results of the hard work of an incredibly dedicated, talented and creative team of staff, board, instructors and volunteers that has enabled the Museum to innovate, to remain connected with, and even grow our audience. With their support, I look forward to building on the steps we’ve taken to continue to inspire our community with creative exhibitions and programming and to serve as a place where the arts play a leading role in fighting the injustices in our society.

Walter adds, “I am delighted that my good friend and long-time partner has accepted this challenge. The Board and I are excited about the Museum’s future and have never been more confident in MAM’s leadership, financial position, and programmatic relevance to Northern New Jersey.”

About the Montclair Art Museum (MAM)

The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) boasts a renowned collection of American and Native American art that uniquely highlights art-making in the United States over the last 300 years. Works in MAM's Native American art collection span the period of ca. 1200 C.E. to the present day. The Vance Wall Art Education Center encompasses the Museum’s educational efforts, including award-winning Yard School of Art studio classes, lectures and talks, family events, tours, and the mobile MAM Art Truck. MAM exhibitions and programs serve a wide public of all ages, from families and seniors to artists, educators, and scholars.

All Museum programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, Carol and Terry Wall / The Vance Wall Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Museum members.

Media Contacts

Georgette Gilmore, 973-259-5122 [email protected]

Asif Iqbal, 973-259-5134 [email protected]