Terry Riley Leaving the Miami Art Museum

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That was fast. I mentioned a few weeks ago that it’s not unusual for a museum director to step down after seeing through a major new building or addition at the museum. But it is a bit unusual for them to leave immediately after the architect’s plan has been unveiled, especially if they haven’t been in the job that long to begin with. It was only last week that the Miami Art Museum (MAM) made public the Herzog & de Meuron design for their new building. And then today, boom, the museum announced the resignation of MAM Director Terry Riley — “effective immediately” —  after just three and a half years on the job.

Riley, who is also an architect and will be returning now to his firm Keenen/Riley, came to MAM in 2006 from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he had been chief curator of architecture and design. In the museum’s press release announcing his resignation MAM Chairman Aaron Podhurst congratulates Riley for doing a “superb job” in “the dual goals of focusing MAM’s mission and creating a clear vision for the development of the museum’s new building.” The press announcement also mentions that Riley will continue to work with MAM as a consultant through June 30, 2010 — just after the time the museum expects to break ground on its new home.

But for all the warm words, a resignation that’s “effective immediately” doesn’t make it sound like Riley is being invited to take a long bow on the way out the door. Was there some bad blood here?