CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — Longtime curator Douglas Druick has been named president of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Druick has been its acting president since the unexpected departure of James Cuno in June.

In an interview with WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts, Druick said attendance and finances are healthy, and that its endowment has gained 24 percent in the past year alone — putting it back where it was before the economic downturn began.

“I believe that this is one of the world’s great museums,” Druick said.

Yet Druick said it is important for the Art Institute not to rest on its laurels.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Two key appointments will help him to further his goals: new directors of marketing and education. He said he wants someone to fill the education post who will emphasize technology and the new ways that people learn.

In terms of marketing, Druick said one of aspects of his new job that he will relish is to conceive and mount new exhibitions, and he is wasting no time.

Plans are being laid for a 2012 exhibition, which Druick said is unprecedented, that will focus on fashion and impressionism.

“One might think that everything that can be said has been said about impressionism, but that is not at all the case because fashion has never been considered as part of the impressionistic context,” he said. “Fashion is about change and so is impressionism about change.”

Although Druick said the idea is his, it will not debut at the Art Institute. He said that the exhibition, will which will be mounted in conjunction with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Musee D’Orsay in Paris, will debut in Paris during Fashion Week 2012. Only after that will it come home to Chicago.

“We thought it would be fun,” Druick said of the decision to debut it in Paris during Fashion Week.

In making the announcement, Museum Chairman Tom Pritzker cited Druick’s intellect and vision.

Druick has served during his 26 years with the the Art Institute as chair of the Department of Prints and Drawings and chair of the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture.

Exhibitions to Druick’s credit include work by artists such as Degas, Van Gogh and Picasso.

Before joining the Art Institute staff, Druick worked with the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. He calls his new position “a great privilege” and said he is “excited and eager” to begin work.

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