Neal Benezra has been Director of SFMOMA since 2002. Benezra had previously served as Deputy Director and Frances and Thomas Dittmer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, a dual position he assumed in 2000. Previously, he spent eight years at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where he was Assistant Director for Art and Public Programs (1996–1999) and Chief Curator (1991–1996). From 1985 to 1991, Benezra was a curator in the department of 20th-century painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. Benezra was curator at the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa from 1983 to 1985, and before that he served as one of the first coordinators of the Anderson Collection in the Bay Area.
Benezra holds both a Ph.D. and an M.A. in the history of art from Stanford University; an M.A. in the history of art from the University of California, Davis; and a B.A. with honors in the history of art and political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Benezra is a member of the Smithsonian Council; the Art Advisory Board of the University of California, San Francisco; and the Art Advisory Panel of the Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury. Benezra also served as a visiting associate professor at the University of Chicago (1990) and as visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1988).