At Expo Chicago Fair, Museum Directors to Convene for Summit About ‘Institutional Reinvention’

At Expo Chicago Fair, Museum Directors to Convene for Summit About ‘Institutional Reinvention’
By: Maximilíano Durón

For its upcoming 2022 edition, set to run April 7–10, Expo Chicago will launch a summit for museum directors to complement its annual Curatorial Forum. Both will run in tandem with Expo Chicago’s main event, which will see more than 100 galleries their wares to the city’s Navy Pier.

Titled the Directors Summit, the new event will bring together eight museum leaders for two public roundtable discussions and a keynote address about “institutional reinvention,” according to a release. The fair is organizing the summit in partnership with Jill Snyder, a consultant who was resigned as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland in 2020.

The participating directors are Louise Bernard at the Obama Presidential Center Museum in Chicago, Miki Garcia at the Arizona State University Art Museum, Amy Gilman at the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Adam Levine at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, Cameron Shaw at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, Christina Vassallo at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Halona Norton-Westbrook at the Honolulu Museum of Art in Hawaii, and Julie Rodrigues Widholm at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in California.

In a statement, Snyder said, “As the museum field at large accelerates necessary self-examination and reinvention, the intent for the Summit is to create a convening opportunity, through public dialogue, for museum leaders to address challenges, share aspirations, and to provide insights on the many positive changes that can or have been implemented to fortify the communal foundation of cultural institutions.”

Organized with Independent Curators International, the Curatorial Forum will this year deal with three topics in its closed-door sessions: “Racial Equity, Representation, Social Justice,” “Labor Conditions,” and “Community Engagement.” For these sessions, Expo Chicago will bring together some 40 curators from around the country.

As part of this year’s edition, the Curatorial Forum will look to develop a year-round advocacy group that will issue recommendations on best practices in the curatorial field based on these sessions. A similar closed-door event happens as part of the Armory Show in New York; the event held at that fair, the Curatorial Leadership Summit, will be this year be led by Museum of Fine Arts, Houston curator Mari Carmen Ramirez and look to address the distinctions between Latinx and Latin American art.

In a statement, ICI director Renaud Proch said, “In this period of cultural rebuilding, the type of knowledge-exchange and collaboration among curators that the Curatorial Forum has encouraged across the American museum world since 2016 is more important than ever. This edition of the Forum is also very important to us, as it marks the start of new, year-round ICI programming in Chicago that will stem from and deepen the conversations generated during EXPO CHICAGO.”