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Austin Museum of Art director to step down

Dana Friis-Hansen has been executive director since 2002.

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Austin Museum of Art leaders announced Friday that Dana Friis-Hansen, longtime museum director, will be stepping down from his post.

Lynn Sherman, president of the museum's board, said that Friis-Hansen's departure was decided mutually with the board.

"The museum has some great opportunities, and so does Dana, and it's a favorable situation for him and for us," Sherman said.

Friis-Hansen, who has been executive director since 2002, could not be reached for comment. He joined the museum's staff in 1999 as chief curator.

Jack Nokes, former administrative director of the museum, has been hired as an interim executive director while a search for a new director begins, Sherman said.

Friis-Hansen's departure comes at a crucial time. Last month, Sherman and other museum leaders announced that the museum would sell the downtown lot on which it had long planned to build. Travis County purchased the lot, on the south side of Republic Square Park downtown, for $21.75 million Dec. 28.

Beginning in the early 1980s, AMOA began efforts to build its own facility downtown. Millions were spent in three separate efforts that failed.

Since 1995, the museum has rented space at 823 Congress Ave. The organization also maintains its original home, the historic estate known as Laguna Gloria.

jvanryzin@statesman.com; 445-3699