- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Milo Cleveland Beach, director of the Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art since 1987, yesterday announced his retirement, effective Oct. 1.

Mr. Beach, 62, said he hoped to return to academic pursuits, specifically Indian painting of the Mogul period (1562-1858). The two galleries house much of the Smithsonian's Asian art and artifacts.

"I'm eager to return to the scholarly work that brought me here," said Mr. Beach, who holds a bachelor's degree and doctorate from Harvard University.

His affiliation with the Smithsonian began in 1980, when he was a Smithsonian Regents' Fellow and wrote "The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court." He organized an exhibition of the same name, with the Freer's collection of Indian Islamic paintings.

In 1984, Mr. Beach became assistant director of the Sackler, which was being planned at the time. "During the next three years, he was responsible for establishing the identity of the Sackler," according to a Smithsonian statement.

He became acting director of both museums in October 1987 the Sackler held its grand opening one month earlier and director one year later.

Thomas Lentz, director of the International Art Museums Division at the Smithsonian, said a search would begin soon for Mr. Beach's successor.

"Perhaps his greatest achievement was helping to construct a more balanced view of Asia's visual creativity, one that championed the importance of south and west Asia," Mr. Lentz said.

The Sackler was built to augment the Freer, whose founder, Charles Lang Freer, placed restrictions on its collections. Mr. Beach sought to attract a younger audience to the Sackler and appeal to Asian scholarship by including exhibits of Asian folk art traditions, architecture, photography, crafts and contemporary art.

Today, the Sackler attracts 195,000 visitors per year.

In 1989, the Freer began a $26 million, 4*-year renovation, which included construction of a exhibition hall connecting it to the Sackler.

Mr. Beach oversaw the Freer's 75th anniversary in 1998, having raised more than $10 million for acquisitions, exhibitions and major publications. The Freer today has more than 340,000 visitors annually.

During his tenure, Mr. Beach organized the Sackler exhibition "Indian Paintings and Drawings From the Collection of Howard Hodgkin" in 1991 and "A Mughal Hunt" in 1994. He also created the Meyer Concert series in the Freer's Meyer Auditorium.

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