Maxwell Anderson
Souls Grown Deep Foundation


Art historian and arts administrator Maxwell L. Anderson has devoted his career to advancing the mission of non-profit cultural institutions, while creating best practices to insure their development and sustainability. He has long sought to address challenges facing the cultural sector, from community engagement to programmatic relevance, transparent business practices, cultural property ownership disputes, operational efficiency, and the impact of digital platforms on communications. Throughout almost 30 years as an art museum director, he assisted mayors and city governments in improving their cities through the provision of vibrant cultural offerings.


Since 2016 he has served as president of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation and Community Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the work of African American artists from the South, and supporting their communities by fostering economic empowerment, racial and social justice, and educational advancement. The Foundation derives its name from a 1921 poem by Langston Hughes (1902-67) titled The Negro Speaks of Rivers, the last line of which is "My soul has grown deep like the rivers." Its mission is to include their contributions in the canon of American art history through acquisitions from the Foundation's collection by major museums, as well as through exhibitions, programs, and publications. Anderson's involvement with the collection of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation dates back to his first museum directorship at Emory University''s Carlos Museum beginning in 1987.


From 1987 to 2015, Anderson directed art museums in five North American cities: Atlanta, Toronto, New York, Indianapolis, and Dallas. Highlights include the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Dallas Museum of Art.


Anderson received an A.B. from Dartmouth College with highest distinction in art history (1977), and A.M. (1978) and PhD. (1981) degrees in art history from Harvard University. He was decorated as a Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Knight Commander in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic) in 1990, and decorated with the rank of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic) in 2010.


Anderson serves on the NewCities Foundation board, the advisory board of the National Center for Arts Research, the Advisory Board of Columbia University Press and is Chairman Emeritus of the Global Cultural Districts Network. He is a Senior Advisor at Ennead Lab, the research arm of Ennead Architects, Consulting Scholar in the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, and is Senior Project Advisor to the Italy-U.S. Exhibition Program, the result of a collaboration between the American Federation of Arts and LoveItaly.

He lives in Manhattan and has a son, Chase, and a daughter, Devon.

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