Comings and Goings

This month:


Daniel Birnbaum named director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm

International curator and critic Daniel Birnbaum has been named director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, succeeding Lars Nittve, who steps down on 31 October. The appointment came only weeks after Birnbaum stepped down as rector of Städelschule Staatliche Hochschule in Frankfurt am Main and director of the academy’s art space, Portikus, where he had served since 2001. He was also artistic director of the 2009 Venice Biennale, co-curator of the 2008 Yokohama Triennial, and curator of the 2008 Turin Triennial. Nikolaus Hirsch, an architect, curator and art theorist, takes over from him at the German school. Birnbaum, who was born in Stockholm, said the Moderna Museet “is a museum I grew up with, and where I first encountered modern and contemporary art”.

Deborah Wye, chief curator of prints and illustrated books at MoMA, to retire in September

Deborah Wye, chief curator of prints and illustrated books at MoMA in New York, is stepping down on 1 September after more than 30 years at the museum, in keeping with MoMA’s policy of senior staff retiring at the age of 65. She will continue as a consultant to the museum and plans to finish the final volume of a catalogue raisonné of Louise Bourgeois’s prints, the entire body of which are part of the museum’s collection after Wye helped secure them as a gift from the artist in 1994. Wye is one of the leading experts on Bourgeois’s work, having organised a retrospective of the sculptor at MoMA in 1982. Her most recent show is “Picasso: Themes and Variations” (until 30 August).

Bob Jacobsen, Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ first curator of Asian art, steps down

Bob Jacobsen, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ first curator of Asian art who has served at the museum since 1977, stepped down at the end of April. During his 30 years at the institution, Jacobsen led the growth of its Asian collection, now one of the most comprehensive in the country, and oversaw three successive expansions of the Asian galleries, including the installation of two period rooms. In recognition of his years of service Jacobsen has been named curator emeritus.

Michael Darling appointed new chief curator of MCA Chicago

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago has appointed Michael Darling as its new chief curator. Darling takes up his new position in July and replaces Elizabeth Smith, who resigned last year. He is curator of modern and contemporary art at the Seattle Art Museum, where he organised the current exhibition examining the late rock musician Kurt Cobain’s influence on the local art scene (until 6 September). Before that, Darling was associate curator at MoCA in Los Angeles, where he organised the popular “Superflat” exhibition with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

Susan Taylor taking over as director of the New Orleans Museum of Art

Susan Taylor is taking over as director of the New Orleans Museum of Art on 1 September following the retirement of E. John Bullard, one of the longest-serving museum directors in the US, after 37 years. Taylor previously served as director of the Princeton University Art Museum from 2000 to 2008. Bullard will remain at the museum as director emeritus and will continue to work on organising the museum’s centennial celebrations throughout 2011.

Dame Rosalind Savill retiring as director of London’s Wallace Collection

After nearly 20 years in the post, Dame Rosalind Savill has announced she is retiring as director of London’s Wallace Collection in October 2011. Dame Rosalind came to the Wallace Collection as a museum assistant in 1974, having started at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She published her authoritative three-volume work, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, in 1988. During her tenure, the historical home’s attendance has risen to record levels. The trustees have begun the search for her successor.

MaXXI museum announces changes to its board and staff

Just weeks before its planned opening at the end of May, Rome’s MaXXI museum announced some changes to its board and staff. First, Bartomeu Marí, director of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona, replaced Carlos Basualdo on the museum’s advisory board. Basualdo, who serves as curator of contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has taken on the additional role of curator-at-large of MaXXI’s art department. And architect, critic and lecturer Pippo Ciorra is serving as senior curator of its architecture department.

Fabrizio Magani named interim superintendent of Venice museums group

Fabrizio Magani, superintendent of artistic and historical heritage of Verona, Rovigo and Vicenza since 2008, has been named as the new interim superintendent of the Venice museums group, which oversees five institutions, including the Gallerie dell’Accademia. He replaces Caterina Bon Valsassina, who left in April to become director general of cultural heritage in Milan. For a brief time Magani will hold both jobs and it is expected his interim position in Venice will eventually be made permanent, as it was for Valsassina when she was appointed in 2009.

Bice Curiger appointed visual arts director of 2011 Venice Biennale

Swiss curator Bice Curiger has been named as the visual arts director of the 54th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition, to be held in 2011. A graduate of the University of Zurich, Curiger is an art historian, critic, and curator. Since 1993, she has been curator at the Zurich Kunsthaus. Curiger is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Parkett, published in Zurich and New York since 1984; since 2004, she has also been publishing director of the Tate etc magazine produced by London’s Tate Gallery. As we reported in our May edition before the appointment was made, Curiger may find she has less space to work with than her predecessors. The biennale’s directors have traditionally had both the Arsenale and the big Italia Pavilion in the Giardini for their own international shows. Italy’s ministry of culture now says that for 2011 only, to celebrate 150 years of Italy’s unification, the Italia Pavilion in the Giardini will be taken over by art historian Vittorio Sgarbi to present Italian artists. This is deplored by the Italian contemporary art world because Sgarbi is known to dislike most contemporary art. He has said he would like to “install just one work [in the Italia pavilion], the Dead Christ by Mantegna next to a photograph of Che Guevara on his death bed”. The biennale’s president, Paolo Baratta, is now set to discuss the proposal with the Venice Biennale board.

Karola Kraus to take over as director of MUMOK in Vienna

Art historian Karola Kraus, daughter of the collectors Anna and Dieter Grässlin, is set to take over as director of the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna in October. Since 2006, Kraus has been in charge of the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden and was awarded this year’s Art Cologne Prize for her “outstanding contributions to the teaching of modern art”.

Francesco Bandarin, named Unesco’s assistant director-general for culture

Francesco Bandarin, director of Unesco’s World Heritage Centre since 2000, has been named the new assistant director-general for culture. A specialist in architecture and urban planning, Bandarin has previously worked in public and private institutions in the fields of built heritage and cultural heritage conservation. He has also been involved in architectural and urban design in developing countries. At the World Heritage Centre, Bandarin has developed a large network of public-private partnerships for World Heritage conservation, and helped to establish a number of regional centres and insitituions operating under that auspices of Unesco, though not technically part of the worldwide organisation, known as “category II centres”.

Marc Sands takes over as director of audiences and media at Tate

Moving from the newspaper industry to the art world, Marc Sands takes over his new position at the Tate this month as director of audiences and media. Sands is in charge of the development of Tate Media, the institution’s online and broadcasting arm. Sands comes to the museum from Guardian News & Media, where he worked as marketing director from 2000-09 and was key to the development of Guardian Unlimited, the newspaper’s online portal and the most widely read digital news site in the UK.

Jemima Rellie joins Royal Collection as director of publishing and new media

Adding a new post to the Royal Collection staff, Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Jemima Rellie as director of publishing and new media. Rellie joins the Royal Collection from the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles, where she had been assistant director of communications and information since 2007. Before that, she was the Tate’s first head of digital programmes.

Annie Hall becomes Cooper-Hewitt's first objects conservator

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has appointed its first objects conservator, Annie Hall. Until now, the museum has had to rely on freelance conservators to treat objects as needed for all of its shows and loans. Hall has held positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Auckland Museum and the V&A in London. The position is funded by a $1m challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, awarded in 2006, which when matched will create a $2m endowment fund.

Former US ambassador to Italy Ronald Spogli elected to Getty board

The Getty Trust has announced two important additions to its board of trustees. First, perhaps in an effort to improve its ties to Italy, Ronald Spogli, former US ambassador to Italy and to the Republic of San Marino, has been elected to the board. Now leading his own private equity investment firm, Spogli has lived in Italy periodically throughout his life, first as a student at Stanford University’s Florence campus and later as a researcher in Milan. The board also elected a new chair, businessman and collector Mark Siegel, who takes over 1 July. He succeeds Louise Bryson who has served since 2006.

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