CLINTON — Dutch art historian and icon expert Simon Morsink, director of the Morsink Icon Gallery in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has been named the new executive director of the Museum of Russian Icons.
Morsink replaces founding director Kent Hard Russell, who recently announced his retirement after 16 years at the Clinton Museum.
A leading specialist in Russian icons, Greek icons, and Ethiopian and Byzantine art, Morsink is well known to private collectors and museum curators around the world.
For more than 30 years, he has run, together with his brother Hugo, the internationally renowned icon gallery Morsink, in Amsterdam, specializing in icons created between the 15th and 19th centuries. He was senior consultant in Russian and Greek icons for Sotheby’s in London from 2007 to 2020.
Morsink has contributed essays to two Museum of Russian Icons publications, “Two Museums | One Culture” and “Twenty Treasures from the Museum of Russian Icons”; and was a speaker at the Museum’s 2021 international conference “Collecting Orthodox Art: A History and a Look to the Future”.
“I am delighted to have Simon join our administrative team as our new Executive Director,” said Jack McCabe, Chairman of the Board. “He is uniquely qualified to guide the museum through its next phase. His deep knowledge of icons and the Orthodox world, coupled with his business acumen, entrepreneurial spirit and global professional network will invigorate and amplify the role the museum can play in the local and global community.
“Simon’s appointment comes amid a busy year of return, rebuilding and reinvention at the Museum of Russian Icons following the pandemic, the passing of founder Gordon Lankton and the retirement of longtime director Kent Russell. His current knowledge and connection to the museum will be invaluable.
Morsink studied art history and Slavic studies in Leiden (Netherlands) and Leuven (Belgium). In 1991, he obtained his master’s degree with a thesis on Sergius of Radonezh, founder of the Trinity Monastery near Moscow. Since 1994, he and his brother Hugo have run the Morsink Icon Gallery in Amsterdam, founded in 1977 by their father Jan Morsink.
As an art dealer and icon expert, Morsink has built strong relationships with private icon collectors around the world, as well as with relevant curators from major museums in Russia, Europe, Britain and the United States. He participated in the creation of several international private collections and was instrumental in the acquisition of important icons by the Icon Museum in Recklinghausen in Germany, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Russian Icons, among others.
Morsink has organized numerous exhibitions in his gallery and in European museums; and has published several catalogs including “The Power of Icons” (2006), “Collecting Old Icons” (2012) and “The Colors of Heaven: 15 Cretan Icons from a European Private Collection” (2018).
“I look forward to strengthening the museum’s role as a hub for dialogue about the fascinating world of icons and Orthodox art, and their place in global culture,” Morsink said. “I firmly believe that the way forward for a sustainable and modern icon museum is to carefully balance the academic world with the interests of the general public, which is increasingly socially engaged and diverse. With this in mind, I feel highly motivated to lead the museum into a prosperous future.
Morsink will begin his tenure at the Clinton Museum, aged 15, on July 1.