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Anne-Marie Russell - Executive Director, Sarasota Art Museum, Ringling College of Art and Design

“Il faut cultiver notre jardin.” — VOLTAIRE

Presented by Ringling College of Art and Design June 17, 2019

We must cultivate our garden. What I love about Voltaire’s quote is that it’s our garden, not “one’s own garden.” Our collective garden. We’re all in this together. I am a composite of all the people I’ve been so privileged to encounter in my life and learn from, starting with my first teachers, my lovely parents. All of my students over the last 25 years and all the artists whom I have been fortunate to work with have been my greatest teachers. Lately, it’s our Museum crew, the talented contractors and my brilliant daughter (who’s brilliance I credit to those aforementioned artists, especially her amazing architect father). And most importantly, my wise, sage husband, a man who embodies the concept of gratitude.

I think we are here to learn as much as we can, and to share what we learn. We learn as we teach, together. Museums are important because they house the highest aspirations of humankind, in the public trust, for now and forever. Pretty lofty stuff, and I’m a true believer. It is a great honor for me to serve the public in this way. Sometimes art makes me happy, sometimes it inspires me, sometimes it makes me laugh or cry, sometimes it freaks me out—but art ALWAYS teaches me something. And when I see something I’ve never seen before, I see the world in a different way. Art helps expand our consciousness, and art cultivates our empathy. Art is what makes us human.


  • Art museum director and curator for the last 15 years
  • Award-winning documentary filmmaker
  • B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, M.A. in Art History; designed, taught and administered an M.A. program in Museum Studies and Connoisseurship
  • “Cooking school taught me how to make movies, and making movies taught me how to build museums.”

Ringling College of Art and Design
2700 N. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34234