Milwaukee, WI, January 26, 2009—The Milwaukee Art Museum has appointed Brady Roberts as Chief Curator, announced Museum Director Daniel Keegan today. Roberts will assume his position on March 2, 2009.
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“The Museum is delighted to welcome Brady Roberts to lead its curatorial team,” states Keegan. “He brings an exceptional depth of knowledge, scholarly expertise, and an impressive record of curatorial accomplishments particularly relevant to our strengths in post-war visual art. He has worked on several notable exhibitions and acquisitions related to artists represented in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Collection—Cornelia Parker, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Donald Judd, and Josiah McElheny, among others—and has cultivated throughout his career a passion for German Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism, which are also significant Collection strengths. We eagerly anticipate his contributions as the capable leader of our curatorial staff and artistic programs.”
Roberts said, “Collection development and research are central to my approach, predominantly through the vehicle of collection-based exhibitions. I see a wealth of opportunities with the exceptional holdings at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I look forward to leading the Museum’s excellent curatorial staff, working with its outstanding Collection, and earning the assistance of the Museum’s outstanding support groups.”
Roberts, who succeeds Joseph Ketner, most recently was the curator of a contemporary art space in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that represents artists from around the world. From 2001 to 2006 he served as curator of modern and contemporary art at the Phoenix Museum of Art. Before moving west, Roberts was the executive director of the Dubuque Museum of Art from 1997 to 1999, and the curator of collections and exhibitions of the Davenport Museum of Art (now the Figge Art Museum) from 1989 to 1997.
“Brady Roberts is a widely respected curator who is known for his scholarly record and for the ambitious nature of the projects he initiates,” said Keegan. “He is committed to framing important art-historical questions with topical relevance, developing a strong interpretive point of view, and fostering new discoveries for new audiences and visitors.” Chicago collector of contemporary art for over 50 years and Phoenix Art Museum board member Joel Bernstein states that “Brady is enthusiastic and very knowledgeable; he will organize shows that will make Milwaukee a force in the contemporary art world.” Phoenix art collector Howard Hendler credits Roberts for inspiring him and his wife to donate major pieces of art to the Phoenix Art Museum’s contemporary collection: “His actions not only completely changed the face of the Museum’s collection but also put us in the position of having an extraordinary amount of personal satisfaction and pride in what we were able to help accomplish.” Chairperson of the Phoenix Art Museum Ellen Katz says that Roberts “opened the eyes and minds of our members to new and exciting artists and works of art. He brought a truly international representation of global art to the valley of Phoenix.”
As Chief Curator, Roberts will oversee the Museum’s collections and exhibitions—including the research, cataloguing, care, display and interpretation of the artworks, as well as the acquisition of significant new works—while leading the curatorial staff of 25 departmental professionals.
In 1989 Roberts earned his Master of Arts in art history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed his thesis, titled Willem de Kooning’s Existential Aesthetics. He received his Bachelor of Arts in art history from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has curated a number of touring exhibitions with major scholarly catalogues, including Constructing New Berlin in 2006 and Grant Wood: An American Master Revealed in 1996.
Recent and Upcoming Changes to Milwaukee Art Museum Curatorial Department
Laurie Winters, curator of earlier European art and coordinating curator of the upcoming Jan Lievens exhibition, has been promoted to Director of Exhibitions, a new position at the Museum effective March 2. Winters, who specializes in earlier French and Central European painting, joined the Museum in 1997. In 2007, Winters was one of ten U.S. curators selected to participate in the inaugural year of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, a program at the Columbia Business School in New York that prepares top curators for positions in museum leadership.
“I’m delighted to be selected, and to have oversight of the Museum’s exhibitions program,” says Winters. “With its esteemed exhibition history, the Milwaukee Art Museum is known for its superb artistic program and talented staff. I am truly excited about the opportunity to expand my role at the Museum and to continue to bring world-class exhibitions to Milwaukee.”
As Director of Exhibitions, Winters will be responsible for overseeing the conceptualization and implementation of the Museum’s exhibitions and related programs. “It is crucial for the Museum to focus on its core mission of presenting extraordinary art and experiences to the community,” says Director Dan Keegan. For this reason in particular, I am very pleased to recognize Laurie Winters’ contribution and commitment to the Museum. This model of dedicating a position to exhibitions is becoming more prevalent among museums, and this particular position builds on Laurie’s obvious strengths in exhibition development.”
In coordination with the curatorial team and as a member of senior management, the Director of Exhibitions further serves to maintain and strengthen national and international networks and relationships, identifying important exhibition opportunities for the Museum. Newly appointed Chief Curator Brady Roberts says, “I am excited to be a part of a new curatorial leadership model, and I look forward to building a close partnership with Laurie and creating first-rate art experiences for my new community.” Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., curator of the Jan Lievens exhibition and curator of northern baroque painting at the National Gallery of Art, applauds the appointment: “Laurie brings both passion and professionalism to her work, and in doing so, she energizes both her collaborators and the public. I can’t imagine anyone who would make a better Director of Exhibitions.”
Winters has organized—often with international colleagues—a number of exhibitions that have ranked among the best-attended shows in the Museum’s history. In 2000-2001, in conjunction with the opening of the Museum’s new addition, she was responsible for the expansion and renovation of the European galleries. In 2002, Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland was named one of the top five exhibitions of the year by Apollo magazine, and earned Winters Poland’s Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit. Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity, which concluded its international tour to the Albertina in Vienna, the Deutsches Historisches Museum-Berlin, and the Musée du Louvre in Paris in January of 2008, has been recognized as a model of international collaboration. Additionally, the Biedermeier catalogue was named Book of the Year (2007) at the Vienna Art Fair.
Winters’ appointment follows several additional promotions, as well as the recent addition of a new member to the team. In September of 2008, Lisa Hostetler became Curator of Photographs, Mary Weaver Chapin advanced to Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings, Catherine Sawinski was named Assistant Curator of Earlier European Art, and John McKinnon was promoted to Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. As of January 13, 2009, Melissa Buchanan has joined the Museum as the Mae E. Demmer Assistant Curator of 20th-Century Design. Buchanan will be responsible for researching and presenting the Museum’s significant collection of decorative arts from the twentieth century.
ABOUT THE MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM
The Milwaukee Art Museum’s far-reaching holdings include more than 20,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. With a history dating back to 1888, the Museum houses a Collection with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The Museum includes the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion, named by Time magazine “Best Design of 2001.”
Digital images of Brady Roberts and Laurie Winters are available upon request.