East Lansing New MSU museum director brings expectations to job

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michael Rush, the recently hired director of the still-unfinished Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, is a New Yorker who found his way to the Midwest via Boston, Palm Beach and New Haven.

"I have to take a few nice pills every day to get used to all the friendliness," he said recently to a crowd of donors, docents, faculty and deans who had come to the Wharton Center to give him a formal welcome.

Rush's resume includes years as a Jesuit priest and roles on "Spencer: For Hire" and "Law and Order." He's written books on new media in art and video art.

In his last job, at Brandeis University, he earned his bone fides as a museum director by fighting a plan by the university to sell the $350 million art collection housed at its Rose Art Museum. He also lost that job in the process.

He's come to MSU trailed by no small amount of expectation.

"He's a phenomenally connected individual, and he's got a really astute mind in terms of contemporary and modern art," said Tom Berding, chair of the Department of Art and Art History and a part of the committee that hired Rush.

The committee had been looking for someone capable of "connecting locally in the community, internally to the university and internationally to the best of contemporary art," he said. Rush seemed to have it.

The warm welcome, Rush said, "increases the sense of responsibility. People were saying how much they expect, all the great things from the museum. Don't worry. No pressure."

Published: Thu, Mar 3, 2011

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