Home > News > Dr. William Eiland, Perry County native, will retire after 30 years

Dr. William Eiland, Perry County native, will retire after 30 years

‘Bill’ Eiland was longtime director of the prestigious Georgia Museum of Art

Dr. William Underwood Eiland, who has served as director of the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia since 1992, recently announced that he will retire effective March 31, 2023.

Under Eiland’s leadership, the Georgia Museum of Art has seen its collections, stature and reach grow dramatically. Since he became director, the museum has won more than 250 awards for its publications, programming, staff and exhibitions and become recognized as one of the leading university art museums in the country. Over that same period, its collection has grown exponentially, to total more than 17,000 objects.

A native of Sprott, Alabama, Eiland has a doctoral degree from the University of Virginia and has written, edited and contributed to more than 60 publications. He oversaw the museum’s 1996 move across campus to a much larger contemporary building as well as a $20 million privately supported expansion and renovation of the museum in 2011 that added permanent collection galleries, a sculpture garden devoted to work by women artists and storage space. In recent years, major gifts have increased substantially the museum’s collections in African American and African diasporic art, contemporary art and photography.

Eiland has elevated the museum’s national and international reputation through service on the board of the American Alliance of Museums, as a trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors, trustee of the International Council of Museums, and as chair of the Arts and Artifacts Indemnity Advisory Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts. He also served as vice chair of the board of the American Association of Museums and vice chair of its Accreditation Commission.

His honors include the rarely given American Alliance of Museums Distinguished Service Award; induction into Sigma Pi Kappa, an international fraternity of historic preservationists; the James Short Award for distinguished service in the museum profession from the Southeastern Museums Conference; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries; and a Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities.

Throughout his tenure, he has ably balanced the museum’s dual mission as an academic institution that pursues and publishes scholarship and as the official state museum of art with a strong sense of public service. A national search will be conducted to find the museum’s next director.