'Deeply engaged' former Clark Director David Brooke dies at 87

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WILLIAMSTOWN — David Brooke, the former director of the Clark Art Institute who led the museum through a pivotal time in its growth, has died.

Brooke, who was 87, died April 30 in Alhambra, Calif. At the time of his death, he was living in San Marino, Calif., with his wife, Sandra Ludig Brooke.

He retired from the director's post at The Clark in 1994.

"David Brooke was a pivotal figure in the Clark's growth," Olivier Meslay, director of The Clark, said in a prepared statement. "While his tenure at the Clark was marked by many accomplishments, we particularly benefitted from his keen eye in making many stunning acquisitions that are now beloved highlights of our collection, including works by Paul Gauguin, Fran ois Boucher, Pierre Bonnard, and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema."

Brooke also was instrumental in creating programs to grow the art museum's name and market.

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"David was deeply engaged with our community and with our visitors, and created the Clark's membership program as a means of deepening that connection," Meslay said. "I first met him when I was here in Williamstown as a Clark Fellow in 2000 and we forged a friendship that endured. I consider it an honor to follow in his footsteps and recognize that his contributions to the Institute and to our region have left a lasting impact that enriches us all."

A newly installed gallery marker expresses the museum board's wish to honor Brooke, according to Victoria Saltzman, the museum's director of communications.

The marker reads: "The Trustees and staff of the Clark Art Institute mourn the recent death of former director David S. Brooke. David led the Clark from 1977 to 1994, a period of significant growth for the Institute. His contributions to the Clark were innumerable; his lasting legacy includes the many important works he acquired for the Institute's permanent collection and the continued development of its library. A distinguished scholar, a respected leader, and the ultimate gentleman, David was a beloved colleague, mentor, and friend. The James Tissot painting, Chrysanthemums, was acquired in David's honor upon the occasion of his retirement from the Clark."

Brooke was born in 1931, outside London. He was raised in England and Scotland, and studied art history at Harvard University, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees. He served as an officer in the British Army, and also served as a British bobby. Before landing at The Clark in 1977, he served as director at the Currier Gallery of Art, and served as curator at museums in Canada and the U.S.

"Remembered for his keen collector's eye, irreverent wit, and generosity to friends and colleagues — he remained kind, imaginative and curious until his 87th year," according to information provided by his family in an obituary.

Brooke is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter, a brother, sister and three grandchildren.


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