This July, MoMA’s International Program invited modern- and contemporary-art curators from around the world to participate in the 2014 International Curatorial Institute, a new two-week intensive program focused on leadership development and organizational strategy. Designed in collaboration with the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL) with the aim of expanding participants’ capacity to tackle leadership challenges facing 21st-century museums, the institute brought together an exceptional cohort of eight curators from outside the United States and four curators from MoMA. The 2014 institute expands upon MoMA’s long history of international exchange that dates back to the establishment of the International Program in 1952.
The international participants represented art institutions in Mexico, Ethiopia, Brazil, Qatar, Japan, Peru, Hong Kong, and Poland. Many curators’ home institutions are in the startup phase, including recently opened museums such as Museu de Arte do Rio and Museo Jumex in Mexico City, and the much anticipated M+ in Hong Kong, opening in 2017.
For the institute, MoMA crafted a unique curriculum in partnership with the Center for Curatorial Leadership, which was cofounded in 2008 by Agnes Gund, President Emerita of MoMA and Chairman of the International Council, and Elizabeth Easton. The CCL aims to enhance the preparation and confidence of curators stepping into roles with greater institutional responsibilities. In just seven years, more than 65 percent of CCL graduates have advanced to senior positions, including 15 who are now museum directors. Together MoMA and the CCL launched a program that integrated rigorous training with conversations that exposed participants to multiple models of leadership.
In collaboration with the Columbia Business School (CBS), the institute offered intensive instruction modules each morning, and MoMA staff members from a wide range of departments hosted afternoon sessions. Outside the museum, the visiting curators engaged in discussions with major leaders in the New York cultural community, and visited the site of the new Whitney Museum of American Art, Kara Walker’s Domino Sugar Factory installation A Subtlety, the New Museum, El Museo del Barrio, and the Ford Foundation.
Although members of this energetic group have returned to their home countries, the dialogue continues. To expand the focus on New York institutions and ensure the endurance of the institute’s relationships, MoMA and CCL are planning a follow-up meeting in the spring of 2015 at the home institution of one of the international participants.