Campus News

Clif Olds Retires Again, This Time from Museum

Story posted June 26, 2009

Clifton C. Olds, Edith Cleaves Barry Professor of History and Criticism of Art Emeritus, will retire for a third time when he steps down from his position as interim director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art at the end of June 2009.

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Clifton Olds

Clif Olds is a Renaissance man.

A conversation with Olds covers a lot of ground. A talk may meander through Japanese gardens in Kyoto, a recent passion that led him to create a phenomenal Web site; briefly touch down on the Ars Moriendi, the topic of his 1966 doctoral dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania; descend into the jazz clubs of New York, where he played drums in the late 1950s; and perhaps end up at the Boston Ballet, where his daughter works and continues to perform.

Appointed the Edith Cleaves Barry Professor of History and Criticism of Art in 1982, Olds, it is safe to say, had no idea what he was getting himself into.

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During his time at Bowdoin, he has chaired the art department, curated an exhibition of Rodin sculptures, acted as faculty liaison to the Bowdoin Track Team, and celebrated two — soon to be three — retirements.

After retiring initially in 2003, Olds was persuaded to return to teaching for the 2007-2008 academic year, and again in October 2008 to serve as interim director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

In the classroom, he has taught everything from East Asian Art to the Early Italian Renaissance.

In 1999 he was honored by the College Art Association with the Award for Distinguished Teaching of Art History, an honor that came with testimonials from generations of students and faculty. Letters poured in from Bowdoin College, the University of Michigan, where he taught for 18 years, and the University of Michigan/Sarah Lawrence Summer Program in Florence, Italy, where he served as director in 1979.

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With a wealth of positions, experiences and awards under his belt — surely enough to decorate many successful careers — Clif Olds will leave his position as the museum's interim director at the end of June 2009.

Until his next renaissance, he plans to do some sailing.

Incoming Director of the Museum of Art Kevin Salatino begins in August. Read more here.

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