Michael Roediger has spent the last six years at the helm of one of the largest arts and cultural organizations in the Miami Valley — the Dayton Art Institute.
We caught up with the museum’s director and CEO to talk about the museum, the Dayton arts community and what he loves most about life in Dayton.
Meet our Daytonian of the Week.
What do you do?
I am the Director and CEO of The Dayton Art Institute; Father to an incredible young man Richard A. Roediger and a four-legged kid Rosie the Boston Terrier; and a champion of Dayton and the arts.
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How did you get involved with The Dayton Art Institute?
I first got involved with the DAI when I was a child. My parents would drop me off at Saturday School for art classes. Some classes were for both parents and children and my Dad would attend with me. Those are some of my favorite memories with my Dad growing up. Professionally, I came to the DAI nearly seven years ago when I was tapped by Linda Lombard and Rob Connelly to come and lead the museum.
What superpower would you love to have?
The power to share empathy. We need empathy more than ever and seem to be lacking it more than ever before.
What are your hopes for the arts in Dayton?
That they continue to grow, flourish and become more inclusive so that everyone in our community feels welcome to enjoy our rich arts scene.
What do you love about leading the Art Institute?
The people I get to work with and the people that support the museum. Also, getting to work in such an iconic building filled with treasured objects is a gift.
What are the biggest challenges and joys of leading such an important institution?
The biggest challenge seems to always come down to funds. We are in a much better place than we were six years ago, but we still need to grow our endowment so that we can support the facility, the collection, and take care of our staff. I encourage everyone in the community to become a DAI member. Membership supports our mission of enriching the community with meaningful experiences with art and is a great value with its many benefits. The biggest joys are when we open a new exhibition or create a new experience in the collection galleries. It is always rewarding to witness children come in to the museum for the first time and see them have a sense of awe for the building and art.
Where do you go for a great time?
I am a big fan of “dating your city.” Dayton has so much to offer. I find as I get older, that going to dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants and seeing a movie at the Neon is a great night on the town. A great time can also be about anything with my teenage son Richard who has a better social life than I do.
What would you change about Dayton?
I think we have improved the great divide of the river, but we have a long way to go. I want to see Dayton become more inclusive of all people no matter their race, religion, culture, age, gender, or orientation. I would like Dayton to be the model for other cities.
What should people know about Dayton?
That we represent the best in Midwest values. Daytonians take great pride in our history and are poised to make even more history. Bring your business or family to our community and we will welcome you with open arms.
What is your favorite hidden gem in Dayton?
Maybe not a hidden gem to everyone, but I think Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC) is a real gem that I wish more people would support. I am often confused when I go to local homes, businesses or offices and see commercial art. DVAC represents so many amazing working artists making it possible for everyone to have original art created right here in Dayton.
What’s one word you think people would use to describe you?
I hope people would say I am passionate about Dayton and our arts community.
Why did you decide to settle in Dayton?
I am homegrown and was born in raised in Trotwood. I went to the East Coast for about seven years. I missed my family and our community. I wanted my son to grow up around family and to be raised in the Midwest. Dayton is home.
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
I think our downtown and surrounding areas will continue to grow and see more people choosing to have a live and work life in downtown, which will create more opportunity for restaurants, retail and services for residents. I also think that with more people returning to the amenities of the city that we have more people wanting to have arts experiences within walking distance of their homes. I am amazed by the progress we have made in the last decade.