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Oct 21, 2019 2:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

The Parrish Art Museum Names Kenneth T. Berliner Its New Board Chair

Kenneth T. Berliner with his wife, Dorie.
Oct 21, 2019 3:52 PM


Kenneth T. Berliner, a member of the Parrish Art Museum’s Board of Trustees, has been elected to serve as Board Chair effective September 1, 2019. Berliner joined the Parrish Board in 2016 and has been active on the executive, finance and nominating committees.

Berliner is a partner at Centerview Partners, a leading investment banking firm. Previously he was president at Peter J. Solomon Company and a vice president at Salomon Brothers Inc. A graduate of Duke University and Harvard Business School, he is an avid contemporary art collector and former director of Advanstar Communications, Aspen Park Pharmaceuticals, Humco Holdings Group and whatgoesaround.org.

Recently, Berliner took a moment out of his day to talk about his work with the Parrish Board, his connection to the East End and his interest in the art world.

Q: How would you say the Parrish’s mission (both the museum’s and the board’s) expanded or changed since you joined the board in 2016?

The museum continues to grow and prosper under Terrie Sultan’s direction. As such, the board also continues to grow and it has the pleasure and obligation to support the organization as it moves into the future.

What excites me most is that the museum’s potential is unlimited and I’ve had a benefit of working with a lot of great people since 2016. My challenge is to continue to build on what others have done and bring as much energy and effort as I can to help the museum move forward.”

Q: Can you tell me about your interest and commitment to the art world? What sparked that interest?

Going back about 20 years ago, I didn’t have any hobbies. As a young to middle-age investment banker, I was working all the time. Then a friend of my wife’s said they were going to go bid on a painting at Christie’s and asked if we wanted to come.

So Dorie, my wife, and I went to the auction. It was exciting and fascinating and we said maybe we should spend time getting to know art. We went to museums and art fairs and started meeting people in the art community. Then we started to collect and began doing that together. We have a rule in the family, we don’t hang anything on the walls unless we both like it.

Q: What type of art do you like?

We like modern art, but are pretty much contemporary collectors.

Q: Have you served on an arts organization board before or is the Parrish the first such experience for you?

I’ve been on other not-for-profit boards, but not another arts board. As such, I’m excited about the opportunity to do so, particularly at the Parrish because there are very few organizations that combine so many different things that the Parrish offers. They have programs in education and art history, but also offer people a way to experience music and cultural events — and it’s all predicated on the great art.

Q: You’ve been active on the museum’s executive, finance and nominating committees, but as board chair, how will your focus and duties now change?

I’ve gotten a good background serving on those committees and I’ve learned what’s important. Now my role and calls on my time are much more expansive and encompassing. Where I was on select committees before, now I’ll oversee all the committees.

Q: Are there any committees you’re particularly interested in learning more about?

The collections committee is something I didn’t spend much time on before, so I’m looking forward to spending more time with Terrie and the staff on that.

Q: How often do you gather as a board?

We get together fairly frequently — there are four board meetings a year — but in addition to that, there are committee meetings and we also get together to talk about whatever topics are pertinent in that week or month. We also get together because we like each other.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing museums in general and the Parrish in particular these days?

I would say that opportunities for the Parrish are limitless. The Parrish offers a fantastic experience in so many ways. Like all arts organizations, the challenge is to continue to raise funds for the great programs and art we exhibit. While fundraising is difficult, I think we’ll be successful in continuing to garner donors and add people to the board and bring them through the door, to see all the Parrish has to offer. Whether big or small, arts organizations need the support of the community.

Q: What about opportunities for growth? Where do you see the greatest potential for the Parrish and what are some of the initiatives you’d like to implement with the board going forward?

I think the Parrish has done a very good job in the past connecting with the community. It offers a good mix of contemporary, modern and traditional art that it displays and the collection is quite good. It also offers a full range of art programs, musical performances and educational programs. With the staff and others on board, I hope we can continue to develop and upgrade the collection and continue to raise the stature of the museum so it remains and becomes more important to the people on the East End, throughout New York and the country.

Q: Can you share a bit about your background on the East End? Where do you live and what first drew you to the East End?

I’ve been coming out here for 35 years. I started out in Sagaponack, then was in Sag Harbor and then moved to East Hampton, which is now where I live and consider home. I come out as much as I can and am out every weekend. I have a huge love of landscape architecture as well as art and spend a lot of time working on my property and visiting other people’s property. I love being in nature.

Q: Who are some of your favorite East End artists (both current and past) and why?

Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell as past artists and Chuck Close and Ross Bleckner as current. I love color and people that stretch boundaries. When you look at many of those artists, what they have done historically or today, is create art that speaks to the soul.

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information on the museum and its programs, visit parrishart.org.

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