Frye Art Museum Director and CEO Joseph Rosa Announces Departure

Seattle, WA, February 3, 2022

Joseph Rosa has announced his plan to step down as Director/CEO of the Frye Art Museum effective March 31, 2022, at the conclusion of his current contract and after five years with the institution. The Museum’s Board of Trustees will launch an international search for Rosa’s replacement. In the interim, Thomas Mitchell, CFO, and Amanda Donnan, Chief Curator, will serve as co-directors.

“We were fortunate to have benefited from Joe’s financial acumen, strength of vision, and deep roots in the field,” says Jennifer Potter, President of the Frye’s Board of Trustees. “Through his leadership, the Frye’s talented team has been supported in expanding their ambitions across exhibitions, programs, and digital initiatives. His emphasis on caring for the Frye community—staff, volunteers, artists, and partners—was extremely evident throughout the past two years of the global pandemic, and he leaves the institution in a strong position to thrive in the years to come.”

Rosa began at the Frye in October 2016. In addition to stewarding the Museum through the challenging Covid era, Rosa oversaw the Frye’s successful reaccreditation in 2019, completing a rigorous internal and peer review process that represents the American Alliance of Museums’ gold standard for museum excellence.  During Rosa’s tenure, the Frye invested in strengthening the Museum’s leadership, naming new department heads in finance, curatorial, development, and education. Rosa worked closely with staff and trustees to build a more robust and inclusive donor base and to center the principles of equity and inclusion at all levels of the organization.

Under Rosa’s leadership, the Frye affirmed the vision to reflect Seattle’s evolving identity as a forum for relevant social dialogues. The curatorial team was empowered to grow the Museum’s internationally recognized exhibition program while emphasizing the Frye’s commitment to supporting local artists. This vision allowed the Museum to present the work of many artists who achieved major international recognition in quick succession to their presentation at the Frye, including Tschabalala Self, Amie Siegel, and Tavares Strachan. It also led to the implementation of several strategically significant traveling exhibitions that established critical institutional partnerships and enriched the cultural landscape of Seattle (examples include Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem, Christina Quarles, and Romare Bearden: Abstraction).

“I am incredibly grateful to have contributed to the legacy of this beloved museum,” said Rosa. “For the past five years I have worked alongside colleagues of the highest caliber, and I am immensely proud of the vision we have promoted and the meaningful contributions to our community that we have collectively facilitated. My gratitude also extends to the Frye’s Board of Trustees and generous supporters, whose trust and stewardship have laid the foundation for our many achievements.”

Prior to arriving at the Frye, Rosa was director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art from 2010–2016 and previously held curatorial department head positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the National Building Museum. Rosa, a noted scholar on architect Albert Frey and architectural photographer Julius Shulman, is the author of seventeen books and has curated more than fifty exhibitions. His current research addresses the representation of modern and contemporary architecture through photography, film, and the design arts.


The Frye Art Museum is a living legacy of visionary patronage and civic responsibility, committed to artistic inquiry and a rich visitor experience. A catalyst for our engagement with contemporary art and artists is the Founding Collection of Charles and Emma Frye, access to which shall always be free.

The Frye Art Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

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