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Who Wants to Be a Museum Director? New Crop of CCL Fellows

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The Met’s Tom Campbell: Role model for curators-turned-directors

The Center for Curatorial Leadership has just named its second class of curators who wish to be groomed for leadership positions. Actually, two of the 10, listed below, already have “director” in their titles. I guess they’re hoping for bigger and better things, or more expertise in handling their current responsibilties.

In its press release (not online at this writing), CCL indicates that it feels validated by the Metropolitan Museum’s “widely heralded decision” to appoint one of its own curators, Tom Campbell, to be its next director. Still the Met didn’t appoint one of CCL’s inaugural fellows, curator Gary Tinterow (who was on the museum’s shortlist) to the top spot at his institution.

When I asked Elizabeth Easton, CCL’s director, about how the first crop had fared, she stressed that “the goals of the program are long-term—not to find people new jobs, but rather to teach the skills that will help curators embrace the larger concerns of museums.”

Three fellows did get promotions: Colin Bailey at the Frick Collection, New York; Jordana Pomeroy at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington; Zoé Whitley at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Three others received job offers, two of which were accepted: Liz Armstrong, assistant director for exhibitions and programs and curator of contemporary art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Silvia Cubina, named director of the Bass Museum, Miami.

Here (drumroll) are the 2009 fellows:

Valerie Cassel Oliver, curator, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston

Gloria Groom, curator of 19th-century European painting, Art Institute of Chicago

Maxwell Hearn, curator, department of Asian art, Metropolitan Museum, New York

Robin Held, chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections Frye Art Museum, Seattle

Eik Kahng, curator and head of department of 18th- and 19th-century art, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Mary-Kay Lombino, curator, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Pougkeepsie

Kevin Salatino, curator and department head, prints and drawings, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Britt Salvesen, director and chief curator, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson

Rochelle Steiner, director, Public Art Fund, New York

Matthew Welch, assistant director for curatorial affairs, curator of Japanese and Korean Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Speaking of being groomed for leadership positions, Tom Campbell revealed to Ann Landi, in an interview (not online) for this month’s ARTnews, that he has reluctantly stopped being “an open-collar kind of guy” and is adapting to “a suit-and-tie situation.”

In this, he is mimicking Philippe de Montebello, who told me during my first interview with him (also for ARTnews), shortly after he assumed his post:

I don’t walk around in shirtsleeves. But it’s natural; it’s me. I’m not putting on an act. I mean, if it were warm, I would take off my jacket, but you’re a lady, and I’m not going to do so.

Come on, Tom, be natural. If you’re an open-collar guy, go for it. This “lady” is perfectly fine with that. Maybe it would even signal a more open, less stuffy Met. And then NY Magazine might stop calling you snooty.

an ArtsJournal blog