One year after Olga Viso said that she would step down as leader of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the wake of conflict over a sculpture that depicted gallows, the center on Tuesday has chosen Mary Ceruti as its next executive director.
Ms. Ceruti, who starts in January, has for nearly 20 years served as director and chief curator of the SculptureCenter in Long Island City, Queens, making the institution look and operate more like a museum. Given that both the Walker and the SculptureCenter are multidisciplinary organizations, “programmatically it’s a really great match,” Ms. Ceruti said in an interview.
In 2017, the reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was disrupted by protests against Sam Durant’s “Scaffold.” The structure aimed to evoke gallows in American history — including those used to execute Dakota Indians in 1862 — and local Native American communities deemed it disrespectful.
But Ms. Ceruti said the Walker’s experience with this controversy was more encouraging than daunting.
“Museums are flash points within this larger cultural moment where we’re dealing with issues of individual and collective identity,” she said. “Because the Walker has just been through this, both their staff and their board have done a lot of soul searching, have learned a lot, and — because they’ve had to do it in public — are very prepared to grapple with it.”
Ms. Ceruti started her career at the Philadelphia Museum of Art before serving as the program director for Capp Street Project in San Francisco.
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