Nassau County Museum of Art appoints new director

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Charles Riley was appointed director of the Nassau County Museum of Art Monday. (Photo courtesy Nassau County Museum of Art)

A new director has been appointed to head the Nassau County Museum of Art, but the museum did not explain what led to the outgoing director’s departure.

In a statement issued Monday, museum President Angela Anton announced that Charles Riley II has been named museum director effective immediately.

He will succeed Karl Willers, director of the Roslyn Harbor museum for seven years.

The museum had not announced that it was looking for a new director. It did not say whether Willers had resigned or been fired.

Riley is an arts journalist, reviewer and essayist with 32 books on business, art and public policy, including “Free as Gods: How the Jazz Age Reinvented Modernism.”

Born and raised in Manhasset, Riley graduated from Princeton University and received his Ph.D. from City College of New York.

Before heading the museum, Riley was a Time Inc. reporter who covered the art market and Washington, D.C., for Fortune Magazine. Riley was a tenured professor at City University of New York and teaches in Clarkson University’s management program in Potsdam.

Former museum director Karl WIllers was abruptly replaced this week. (Photo courtesy Nassau County Museum of Art)

Willers is credited with helping recently open the new Manes Family Art and Education Center as well as bringing many critically acclaimed exhibits to the museum during his tenure.

“He may be returning to do guest curating,” Doris Meadows, a museum spokeswoman, said. “It was something he [Riley] hoped he could make happen, but no, he has no formal role going forward, although the expectation is he will stay involved.”

When asked when the decision was made, Meadows said she did not know and declined to comment further.

The museum is governed by a 16-member Board of Trustees, including Anton, that must vote to approve a new director, but Meadows said she did not know when the vote was taken.

Multiple attempts to reach Anton, Riley and Willers were unsuccessful.

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