The surmise (scroll down) of Bloomberg‘s Linda Yablonsky was correct: Kathy Halbreich, who is set to leave the directorship of the Walker Art Center on Nov. 1, will become associate director of the Museum of Modern Art [via]. She will be joined in New York by her current closely cooperative colleague on the Twin Cities art scene, William Griswold, director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, who comes to the Morgan Library & Museum on Jan. 1.
Has MoMA put out a press release? Of course not. Its official spokesperson is Carol Vogel, whose piece for tomorrow’s paper is already up tonight on the NY Times‘ website.
The Walker Art Center apparently doesn’t observe New York’s Vogel embargo, and has already posted this announcement on its own blog. Mary Abbe of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has the story here.
Buried in Carol’s piece is a shocker: The indispensible John Elderfield, MoMA’s chief curator for paintings and sculpture, will soon face retirement, “because the institution sets a mandatory retirement age of 65 for its top decision-makers.” If that foolish rule had existed at the Metropolitan Museum, Philippe de Montebello would have been out of his director’s job a long time ago. Vogel’s piece makes a big point of emphasizing that director Glenn Lowry is staying on. So should Elderfield, if he so desires.
Now the Met should follow suit, not on the age-ist policy, but on the pursuit of a new contemporary art expert who, as I previously discussed here, possesses “a good eye, good instincts and strong contacts with artists, collectors and galleries, who will invigorate the contemporary art program.”
In other words, they need someone who has the acumen of collector Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman, who, as described in the Met’s catalogue for her impressive, donated collection (now on display), had an uncanny ability to “grasp the importance of a radical new development in the visual arts and act on that understanding immediately and with almost pitch-perfect accuracy.”
If our country’s premier museum had that kind of person on staff, maybe it wouldn’t be so resistant to buying the art of our own time.