News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth director Marla Price announces retirement

Marla Price, director of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, sits at a table reviewing artist catalogs. Price announced her retirement Tuesday.
David Woo
The Modern
Marla Price, director of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, sits at a table reviewing artist catalogs. Price announced her retirement Tuesday.

When world-renowned architect Tadao Ando designed and completed the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s iconic building in 2002, director Marla Price was behind the curtain pulling the strings.

Years later, during the building’s 20th anniversary celebration, Price stood front and center. From construction projects to the organization of exhibitions, Price had her hand in it all. Price joined the Modern in 1986 as its chief curator and rose through the ranks to become director in 1992.

On Tuesday, the Modern announced Price’s retirement after a career of 30-plus years. Through her leadership, the museum was elevated to international prominence and became “an outstanding star on a national and international scale,” said the Modern’s board chair, Marsland Moncrief, in a press release obtained by the Fort Worth Report.

Price was not immediately available for comment.

Price ran the Modern during periods of transformational growth, marked not only by the building’s construction, but also by the increase in quality and growth of its permanent collection, board president Rafael Garza said. She oversaw a multitude of major exhibitions and wrote extensively for exhibition catalogs for artists featured at the museum.

Working alongside chief curators Michael Auping, who served from 1993 to 2017, and Andrea Karnes, who followed Auping, Price ushered artists like Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko into the permanent collection and welcomed exhibits from artists like prominentpop culture figure KAWS.

All this helped put the Modern and Fort Worth’s art scene on an international stage, Karnes said.

“Our secret mission was to bring to Fort Worth something you’d see in any leading institution,” Karnes said. “And have our local community educated by that.”

Under Price’s direction, the Modern’s budget grew fivefold, yearly attendance grew well over 100%, and the museum established permanent endowments through her relationships with Fort Worth benefactors, according to the press release.

Anne Marion, who spearheaded The Burnett Foundation before her death in 2020, was one of many key relationships Price maintained throughout her tenure. Since 2001, The Burnett Foundation has given nearly $20 million to the Modern.

Price holds a doctorate in art history; her artistic intellect is outstanding. She can talk about art and its place in the world with anyone, Karnes said. But, it’s not intellect alone that allowed her to bear the fruits of her relationships.

“It’s her intellect, but it’s also her charm,” Karnes said. “She has a wicked sense of humor and she’s very charming, so I think it’s just a winning combination. She has a very quiet manner though, it’s sort of in talking to her that all of that’s revealed.”

Not only did Price foster connections with artists and neighboring museums, she tapped into Fort Worth, Garza said.

“She’s provided a tremendous amount of value to her community,” Garza said. “She was able to build relationships with our supporters, which was so vital to the growth of the museum.”

Her infectious, unique laugh will be missed around the museum, Karnes said, as will her love of cats. Her impact, though, will be remembered.

“It’s hard to even imagine being here without her,” Karnes said.

Price plans to step down sometime this year after the museum hires a new director. The Modern’s board of trustees has begun an international search for the role.

Matthew Sgroi is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or @MatthewSgroi1 on X. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.