Hearst Castle hires museum director

Mary Levkoff picked to succeed Hoyt Fields, who retired after 39 years in role

ktanner@thetribunenews.com  May 14, 2014 

Mary Levkoff

Mary Levkoff, sculpture and decorative arts department head at the National Gallery of Art who once put together an exhibition and book on William Randolph Hearst, has been hired as Hearst Castle’s museum director.

She succeeds Castle veteran Hoyt Fields, who retired after 39 years overseeing the historical museum with its more than 25,000 artifacts and art treasures. He will stay on part time to help smooth the transition.

Levkoff, 61, will begin work this summer, according to Nick Franco, director of the State Parks district that includes the former hilltop estate of the eccentric media mogul Hearst. Her exact salary could not be learned, but the pay range is $7,091 to $8,052 a month plus benefits.

Thirty-eight people applied for the position.

“We are delighted that Ms. Levkoff will be bringing her talents to Hearst Castle,” Franco said. “Mary has the background in museums, the history of Mr. Hearst’s collections, and the demeanor and personality to successfully work well with the many partners on the Central Coast.”

Levkoff said Tuesday she is “completely devoted to the Castle” and “really looking forward to just being there.” When giving lectures about Hearst, she tells those listening, “the Castle is as close to heaven as a person can be and still be on Earth.”

“I’m looking forward to promoting it (the Castle), protecting it and safeguarding it, and making sure visitors appreciate how unique and really wonderful it is,” Levkoff said.

She said she wants visitors to always have a sense of wonder, and “to understand that, no matter how many times they take a tour, there always will be something there that they might have overlooked before.”

Levkoff said she owns a cabin deep in the Cambria pine forest, so “I already have my commitment to Cambria.”

Levkoff’s name is likely familiar to dedicated enthusiasts of Hearst history.

Before her National Gallery position in Washington, D.C., she was curator of European sculpture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from 1989-2009. Her exhibition and book, “Hearst the Collector,” were presented at LACMA in 2008-09 in collaboration with Hearst Castle to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Castle’s opening to the public. The book won Sotheby’s 2011 prize for a distinguished publication in the history of collecting.

Levkoff received her bachelor’s degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University and did graduate work in the history of art at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. She received her formal curatorial training at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Her studies in the field of French Renaissance art have been published under the auspices of the Louvre, the Musée national de la Renaissance, and the École du Louvre.

A separate study by Levkoff on Hearst’s classical antiquities appeared in the October 2008 Apollo, an international art magazine, and her paper on Hearst’s Spanish art was published in 2012 by the Frick Collection’s Center for the History of Collecting, in conjunction with the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica.

Levkoff lectures frequently on the entire span of Hearst’s collections.

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