UWM alumnus will be next CEO of Milwaukee Public Museum

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:16 pm

The Milwaukee Public Museum board of directors has chosen Dennis Kois to be the next president and chief executive officer of the museum.


Kois is currently executive director of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Boston, Mass.

Kois brings to the role a wide variety of experience and leadership at some of the country’s premier museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C.

“We’re very excited to bring Dennis, a Whitefish Bay native, back to Milwaukee and to MPM,” said Jay Williams, chair-elect of the MPM board. “Some of his first elementary school field trips were to the Milwaukee Public Museum, and he has a deep understanding that MPM’s collections, history of scholarship and community stature are important assets. His local roots, combined with a leadership style and museum philosophy honed at some of the nation’s top institutions, will help ensure that the MPM continues to play an increasingly important role in our diverse community.”

Williams announced in August that he would be stepping aside as president of MPM but would continue to serve the museum as board chairman. Kois will begin his new role May 1.

“Dennis has outstanding experience, a strong record of success and a clear vision for the future that put him in a strong position to continue to build on MPM’s successful turnaround,” Williams said. “A number of excellent candidates emerged during our search process, and Dennis stood out from the start. We believe he is the best person to ensure the museum’s mission and strategy continue to serve our members, the greater metropolitan Milwaukee community and all who visit the Milwaukee Public Museum.”

Kois is an honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in museum design, and he has a master’s degree in museum studies from New York University. While at UWM, he served as an exhibition and graphic designer with the UWM Art Museum. Additionally, he has served as a lecturer and panelist on a variety of art- and museum-related topics.

“I owe the start of my career in museums to the MPM field trips of my youth,” Kois said. “It was during those school visits that I discovered that MPM connected me to a world of ideas, history and culture that was, in the most literal sense of the word, transforming. There’s a great deal we can do to build on the good work of Jay Williams, the board and the talented MPM team to advance MPM as an example of how American museums can be even more central to our civic life and citizens. I love Milwaukee and MPM, and I’m excited to be coming home.”

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