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Malcolm Rogers accepts David Brudnoy Award

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Museum of Fine Arts director Malcolm Rogers with Emerson President Lee Pelton upon accepting the David Brudnoy Memorial Award on November 21 at Bordy Theater. (Photo by Tyler McAndrew '16)

Members of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity and Emerson President Lee Pelton presented the annual David Brudnoy Memorial Award to outgoing Museum of Fine Arts director Malcolm Rogers in a ceremony on November 21 at the Bordy Theater.

The Brudnoy Award reflects an individual’s excellence in the arts and communication in the Greater Boston community.

Pelton, who is a trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts, told Rogers there is “universal acknowledgment of your enormous contribution” to enhancing the arts in Boston.

“He’s created a legacy of opening doors in the Boston community to global audiences,” Pelton said, “[by hosting] daring exhibitions and enhancing arts education.”

Rogers is the longest-serving director in Museum of Fine Arts history, having taken the leadership role in 1994. At the time, the museum’s operating budget was in deficit, but its endowment has since grown by approximately $422 million.

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Malcolm Rogers addresses students at the Brudnoy Award ceremony. (Photo by Tyler McAndrew '16)

The result has included renovations that led to a large increase in the number of galleries and programs, as well as the expansion of the museum’s hours of operation to 7 days a week. The museum has also offered deals to attract diverse populations of the Boston-area community.

Rogers spoke with his new honorary Phi Alpha Tau brothers at length after accepting his award, named in honor of late WBZ-AM radio host David Brudnoy, who became a friend of the fraternity and had an open invitation for any brother to sit in on his nightly talk show.

Not long before his death in 2001, Brudnoy willed Phi Alpha Tau a scholarship in his parents’ name, The Harry & Doris Brudnoy Memorial Scholarship, which is given out every year to an active brother.

“We all know David Brudnoy was an inspirational voice and leader in the media, and I sense he was also a great teacher and friend,” Rogers said. “With his passing, we lost a very, very bright light, but I suspect that light continues to burn.”

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Brendan Scully '15, Courtland Noble '15, Malcolm Rogers, Lee Pelton, and Alex Clark '16 at the Brudnoy Award Ceremony. (Photo by Tyler McAndrew '16)

Rogers said one of his primary goals as museum director was making the MFA accessible to the community.

“When I first came [to work at the museum], marketing was a dirty word in museum culture,” he said. “Marketing and mission begin with the same letter. If you’re not communicating, if you’re not reaching the people with the art, then you’re failing in your mission and you are deserting the mission of the founders of the museum.”

Rogers said it’s exciting that museums can reach mass audiences easier than ever with social media. He pointed to a recent promotion in which college students received free admission on Halloween: More than 3,300 students arrived and the museum did no advertising—it only mentioned the event on social media.

“The museum is a way of testing the temperature of the city,” Rogers said. “Is it alive? Is it passionate? Does it set standards in excellence? And, of course, is it communicating with its population?”

Rogers’ advice to students was to work on honing their communication and public speaking skills for jobs; he also encouraged anyone interested in the museum field to take internships.

“Malcolm Rogers has been an outstanding leader, not only here but internationally,” Pelton said. “[He] will be greatly missed by the museum.”

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