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Changing Lives Through Art

Every morning en route to work, Michael Roediger, BA ’90, gazes upon “Pathway” – an outdoor sculpture by John Safer that graces the grounds of The Dayton Art Institute. Constructed of polished steel and soaring 70 feet in the air, “Pathway” is a work of art striking for its sense of momentum and optimism.

“It’s one of my favorite works of art,” says Roediger. “It reminds me that the sky is the limit. What a great way to start each day.”

Michael Roediger, BA ’90, is pictured with BOLD ENDEAVOR (1998)
by John Kuhn, in the Eilleen Dicke Gallery of Glass.
Photo by Ken Miller/Baskerville Photography

Art – in many forms – has inspired Roediger his entire life. His mission is to share that inspiration with others. When he took the helm of The Dayton Art Institute last fall, he immediately established an exciting long-range vision for Dayton’s most iconic institution, with plans to double endowment and transform the museum into a destination hub where people of all ages can discover and rediscover the arts in new ways.

With a collection of more than 26,000 objects spanning 5,000 years of art history, The Dayton Art Institute is ranked one of the nation’s best midsized art museums. The museum is a true community treasure, says Roediger. A third-generation Daytonian, he remembers visiting the museum as a child and taking classes there with his dad. “It’s been part of the fabric of my family’s life, and of so many others, for generations,” he adds.

Growing up, Roediger says his parents recognized and nurtured his creative side. He came to love the theatre, feeling a sense of belonging and escape while in the audience and on stage. When he arrived on ONU’s campus in fall 1986, he aspired to be an actor. But he had a backup plan, majoring in theatre and public relations/communications.

Although he never made it to Broadway, Roediger found fulfillment working in development, public relations and marketing for nonprofits, including a long stint at the Victoria Theatre Association in Dayton.

When the executive director position opened at The Dayton Art Institute, Roediger knew he was the person for the job, even though he didn’t have a visual arts background. The museum’s board of directors agreed. “I’m kind of an anomaly in the art world,” Roediger explains. “I don’t have an art history or curatorial background, so I’m breaking the traditional leadership model by bringing more of a business and fundraising skillset to the position.”

Roediger not only wants his employees to love working at the museum, but also wants community members to love frequenting the museum. He plans to grow revenue and increase the number of visitors each year through enhanced programming and guest amenities, including a renovated café and a new wine and coffee bar. He also wants to double the museum’s endowment to create a sustainable and stable future.

“I know it sounds like a cliché, but art really does change lives,” says Roediger. While he feels privileged to be in a unique position to preserve and promote the arts, he encourages everyone to connect with and celebrate this important element of human history.

“Come visit The Dayton Art Institute. Trust me, it’s worth the drive!”