Gary Vikan was named Director of the Walters Art Museum in 1994 after serving as the museum's Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Medieval Art since 1985; he stepped down from that position in June of 2013. Before coming to the Walters, Dr. Vikan was Senior Associate for Byzantine Art Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. A native of Minnesota, he received his B.A. from Carleton College in 1967 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1976.
Dr. Vikan's vision was the driving force behind the renovation of the Walter's Centre Street Building in 2001, and the contextual reinstallation of its ancient, medieval, and l9th-century collections, as well as the 2005 contextual reinstallation of the museum's Renaissance and Baroque collections in the Charles Street Building. During his tenure, Dr. Vikan secured four major collections, and is also credited with assembling, at The Walters,' the finest collection of Ethiopian art outside of its native country. Under Dr. Vikan's leadership, the Walters received Mellon Foundation challenge grants to endow six curatorial positions, two curatorial post-doctoral positions, a conservation scientist and a scholarly exhibition fund named in his honor. Three hallmarks of his directorship were the change in the Walters' name from "gallery" to "museum," the elimination of its general admission fee and committing its substantial digital assets to open access in 2008.
In 1999 Dr. Vikan was appointed by President Clinton to his Cultural Property Advisory Committee, a post he held until 2003. He was honored by the French Minister of Culture and Communication with Knighthood in the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l 'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) in 2000. In 1999, he was the American Association of Museum Directors' representative to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. He has served or is currently serving on a number of boards, including Maryland Citizens for the Arts, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, the Maryland Humanities Council, the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors' Association, and St. Timothy's School. He recently served on advisory boards for the Getty Leadership Institute and the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University. In 2012, Dr. Vikan was appointed to the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts of the Salzburg Global Seminar.