Michael R. Taylor, the highly regarded curator of modern art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has been named director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College.

He will assume his new position in August, succeeding Brian Kennedy, who moved to the Toledo Museum of Art in September.

Taylor, who was named the Art Museum's first modern art curator in 2004, said in a statement that he was "absolutely delighted" with his new position. The Hood's collection, he said, offered "exciting possibilities," particularly in the area of "student-driven exhibitions, which I believe hold the key to the museum's future success."

Taylor has been a whirligig of curatorial activity since Anne d'Harnoncourt named him to the newly created position of curator of modern art in 2004.

He is responsible for curating many of the museum's most ambitious and high-profile exhibitions, including this year's "Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and His Circle"; "Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris" in 2010; "Marcel Duchamp: Etant donnés" in 2009; "Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective," also in 2009; and "Salvador Dalí: The Centennial Retrospective" in 2005.

He is a scholar of Dada and Surrealism, and author of the award-winning Marcel Duchamp: Etant donnés, which served as the hefty catalog to the Art Museum exhibition.

"The pace of things has been remarkable," Christine Poggi, a professor of art history at the University of Pennsylvania, once said of Taylor's seemingly indefatigable curatorial efforts. Taylor also taught at Penn and opened up the museum as a setting for student seminars. Said Poggi, "He's really a great colleague. You can feel the enthusiasm."

The 43-year-old, London-born Taylor came to the museum in 1997 but already had spent time in Philadelphia while researching his Courtauld Institute doctoral dissertation, on Duchamp's ready-mades. D'Harnoncourt spotted him in Paris when he curated a 1995 Duchamp segment of a show at the Pompidou Center, and within two years brought him to Philadelphia.

In making the announcement, Dartmouth provost Carol "who understands the vital role of the Hood in the life of the students, faculty, and entire community, and will be a tremendous asset to the Hood and Dartmouth."

What happens next at the art museum has yet to be determined. Director Timothy Rub was traveling Friday and could not be reached for comment.

But in the Dartmouth College news release announcing Taylor's appointment, Rub, who was director of the Hood from 1991 to 1999, called it "an outstanding institution, with a strong commitment to scholarship and to the unique role that an art museum can play in enriching the creative life of the Dartmouth community."

Of Taylor, he said, "We will miss Michael dearly, but wish him well and are grateful for the many contributions he has made to this institution during the past 15 years. He is an exceptional curator and will be a great director."

Contact Stephan Salisbury at ssalisbury@phillynews.com or 215-854-5594.