Bronx Museum of the Arts Hires New Director


Deborah Cullen, a curator with a specialization in Latin American and Caribbean art, has been named as the new director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts. She is presently director of the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, and her previous experience includes directing the curatorial programs at El Museo del Barrio. The New York Times reports:

After a period of turmoil and tragedy, the Bronx Museum of the Arts has tapped a new director: Deborah Cullen. A Bronx resident, she is currently the director of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University.

Ms. Cullen, 53, will succeed Holly Block, who served as director at the Bronx Museum for 11 years and died of breast cancer last fall at 58. During her tenure, the museum saw a sizable increase in attendance and made a splash on the international stage, sponsoring the exhibition that represented the United States at the 2013 Venice Biennale.

“Holly took the Bronx Museum through a period of significant growth and positive change,” Joseph Mizzi, the chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, said in a phone interview. “Those are big shoes to fill.”

[. . .] As the director of the Wallach Gallery, Ms. Cullen oversaw the opening of a new gallery space in West Harlem and was known for championing art from Latin America, the Caribbean and the African diaspora. In 2017 she founded “Uptown,” a triennial of contemporary art that showcased artists from in northern Manhattan. “This show hits high, especially when it offers a view of the vibrancy of uptown,” Jason Farago wrote in his Times review.

The Wallach Gallery estimates it had seven times more visitors last year than in 2012, when Ms. Cullen took over. Before then, Ms. Cullen served as the director of curatorial programs at El Museo del Barrio.

In a phone interview, Ms. Cullen did not put forth any specific goals for the Bronx Museum, saying she wanted to get to know the staff and board before making any decisions. She acknowledged the importance of completing the museum’s $25 million capital campaign and balancing its communal and global aims. “My history has always been forging collaborations and building connections,” she said. “I think that needs to happen both locally within the Bronx and on a more national or even international stage.” [. . .]

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