Michael’s commitment to the arts is evident through his contributions to both Australian and international art. Specialising originally in the art of India and the Islamic world, Michael’s illustrious career has taken him across the globe.
Moving to Harvard University to complete his doctorate after obtaining his bachelor degree at ANU, Michael has had an influential presence in some of the world’s most prestigious art museums.
In 1985, he co-curated the major exhibition Akbar's India: Art from the Mughal City of Victory at the Asia Society in New York. His early days back in Australia saw him working as Curator of Asian Art at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from 1988 to 1996 while also acting as Co-Director of the Smithsonian Institution Mughal Garden Project in Lahore, Pakistan from 1988 to 1993. In Canberra he curated The Age of Angkor: Treasures from the National Museum of Cambodia (1992) and The Vision Kings: Art and Experience in India (1995).
From 1996 to 2000 he was Assistant Director, Curatorial and Collection Development, at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane. In 2000 Michael moved to the United States to become director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, where he was the driving force behind a $125 million capital campaign to fund the largest expansion in that museum’s history.
From 2005 to 2010, Michael was Director of the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, leading both the Getty Center and Getty Villa sites and establishing its new Center for Photography. Under his leadership, major acquisitions included masterpieces by artists such as Claude Lorrain and Paul Gauguin. He also staged significant exhibitions such as Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai (2007); Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture (2008) and Drawings by Rembrandt and his Pupils (2009).
Today, Michael serves as Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Prior to his appointment in 2012, he was Consulting Director during the development and construction on the new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, which is scheduled to open in 2014. He also currently serves on the Visiting Committee of the Harvard Art Museums and the International Advisory Board of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.