Indian-American architect named president of top US museum

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Gowri Natarajan Sharma (L) and Dr Venugopal Menon.
The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) in Texas, which is among the ten largest art museums in the US, has named Indian-American Gowri Natarajan Sharma as its new board president, making her the first person of colour to chair the board in the institution’s 119-year history. The decision was announced last week, after the election held by the museum’s present board to approve the new 2022–2023 board. Sharma was unanimously elected.
According to a release from the DMA, Sharma has been on the museum’s board since 2017, and is currently a member of the acquisitions committee. She has served on the executive committee as vice president; co-chair of the strategic planning committee and chaired the learning & engagement committee. She currently serves on the building & grounds committee and is a member of the DMA Acquisition Fund created by the Dallas Art Fair. An active philanthropist, she was a founding board member of UNICEF’s North Texas and Central Plains chapter and executive member of the Orchid Giving Circle at Texas Women’s Foundation (TXWF). Sharma is chair of the construction committee and an executive committee member at The Lamplighter School and sits on the advisory board of talkStem. She holds a master’s degree in architecture and serves as an advisor for her family’s business.
With an endowment of around $270 million, the DMA is one of America’s biggest museums. In what is being seen as a step towards greater diversity, the new board of DMA has also added another Indian-American trustee Dr Venugopal Menon, former vice president of technology at Texas Instruments. The new board officers and trustees represent diverse backgrounds, international leadership expertise and distinction in business, technology, building design and creative industries, according to a release by the DMA.
Dr Menon retired from Texas Instruments in 2019 after a 24-year career. He has served in a wide variety of roles on the board of trustees at DMA since 2009, including as a member of the budget & finance committee and treasurer. He currently serves on the executive and investment committees and is chair of the marketing committee. Menon is a member of the executive board of the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU.
“At its heart, the DMA is a collage of different cultures, ideas and perspectives,” the newly elected president Sharma, said. “The board of trustees recognises their critical role in the stewardship and leadership of the museum and is committed to working with and amplifying community voices to connect with the diverse area the museum serves. We are proud to have a board that reflects the values of our region and look forward to welcoming visitors to discover their own inspiration within the walls of the DMA.”
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