The inagural Directors Summit brought together a diverse group of emerging art museum leaders from across the United States for a three-day program addressing the shifting dynamics of museum leadership today. Shaped in partnership with museum consultant Jill Snyder, the Directors Summit was centered on two public roundtable discussions on the /Dialogues stage that will examined how to forge equitable and sustainable movement forward for art museums and institutions and included a keynote lecture with Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, at University Club of Chicago.
In light of this historic moment of disruption in the field, museum leaders nationwide gathered to reimagine how museums function in society. Each public roundtable discussion focused on exploring a number of questions, including: What do we retain? What do we replace? Do we remove barriers or redesign systems? Or both? How can we dismantle inequitable systems while remaining sustainable? This cohort shared insights and examples that demonstrate how they are leading from an imperfect past to create a more equitable future.
The Directors Summit is supported by Sotheby’s, in addition to the Thoma Foundation, University Club of Chicago, and the Terra Foundation for American Art
DIRECTORS SUMMIT | IMAGINING THE FUTURE: PART I
/DIALOGUES STAGE | EXPO CHICAGO
Panelists | Amy Gilman (Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin), Adam Levine (Toledo Museum of Art), Cameron Shaw (California African American Museum), Christina Vassallo (The Fabric Workshop and Museum). Moderated by Jill Snyder (Museum Consultant).
The inaugural Directors Summit, organized by EXPO CHICAGO alongside experienced museum leader Jill Snyder, brought together a diverse group of emerging art museum leaders from across the United States for a three-day program addressing the shifting dynamics of museum leadership today.
In part one of two roundtable discussions, four emerging art museum leaders explore the shifting dynamics of museum leadership today. In lively conversation, this cohort of change agents will share insights and examples illustrating how they are leading from an imperfect past to create a more equitable future.
DIRECTORS SUMMIT | IMAGINING THE FUTURE: PART II
/DIALOGUES STAGE | EXPO CHICAGO
Panelists | Louise Bernard (Obama Presidential Center Museum), Miki Garcia (Arizona State University Art Museum), Halona Norton-Westbrook (Honolulu Museum of Art), Julie Rodrigues Widholm (SAIC MA 1999, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive). Moderated by Jill Snyder (Museum Consultant).
In a second public roundtable discussion, four emerging art museum leaders explore the shifting dynamics of museum leadership today. In lively conversation, this cohort of change agents will share insights and examples illustrating how they are leading from an imperfect past to create a more equitable future.
Obama Presidential Center Museum
Dr. Louise Bernard is a Senior Vice President at the Obama Foundation and the founding Director of the Obama Presidential Center Museum. As a Senior Content Developer and Interpretive Planner in the New York office of the museum design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates, she worked on the design team that developed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, along with other national and international projects. She previously served as Director of Exhibitions at the New York Public Library, as Curator of Prose and Drama for the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, and as Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University. She received a BA Hons in Drama from the University of Manchester, an MA in Theatre History and an MA in English Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale. Her current research engages with the literary archive, material culture, museology, public history, and interpretive planning and design. She serves on the Advisory Council for the Johnson Publishing Company Archive, and is a recipient of the 2021 College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University.
Arizona State University Art Museum
Miki Garcia was appointed Director of the Arizona State University Art Museum in December 2017. She was recently the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara from 2005-2017. As Director of ASUAM, Garcia manages the staff, facilities, budget, public relations, audience development, fundraising, programs, and exhibitions. In addition, she leads ASUAM with respect to curatorial and program development and community involvement. Garcia holds a BA from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY and a MA in Latin American art from the University of Texas at Austin. She speaks Italian and Spanish, and is passionately committed to making contemporary art accessible to all communities.
Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Amy Gilman joined the Chazen Museum of Art in September 2017. As director of the Chazen, she oversees all administrative, financial, and curatorial duties for the museum. Since her arrival, Gilman has stewarded several major initiatives at the museum,including a new five-year strategic plan, replaced unpaid internships with paid ones, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, dramatically expanded the museum’s hours to 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. During COVID and an unusual academic year, Gilman initiated the development of flexible, adaptable, virtual curricula for use by faculty, connecting the museum's permanent collection with course themes of resilience and surviving trauma, and art and activism. Gilman is a progressive leader in the field, and an advocate for the role of the university art museum on campus and in the community.
Prior to the Chazen, Gilman spent 12 years at the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio where she served as deputy director, assistant director for collections and exhibitions, and curator of modern and contemporary art. Gilman is an alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute. She earned her doctorate in art history at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, a Master of Fine Arts in photography from Columbia College in Chicago, and a bachelor's degree in performance studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Adam M. Levine
Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey Director
Toledo Museum of Art
Adam M. Levine, the Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director of the Toledo Museum of Art and a scholar of ancient art, is a transformative leader with a deep conviction that art inspires and museums are change agents. Levine is the 10th director of TMA since its distinguished founding in 1901.
Prior to embarking on his directorship at TMA in 2020, Levine was the George W. and Kathleen I. Gibbs director and chief executive officer of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. Under his leadership at the Cummer Museum, Levine oversaw numerous strategic initiatives, including the reconstruction of its historic gardens, expansion of its educational offerings and the implementation of innovative membership and audience development programs with dramatic gains in visitorship.
Levine originally joined TMA in 2012 as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, a two-year post-doctoral program designed to prepare the next generation of museum leaders, and went on to increasingly senior management roles at the museum, ultimately serving as deputy director and curator of ancient art. During his six-year tenure at TMA, Levine curated a diverse range of exhibitions, advanced the Museum’s first campus master plan and shared oversight of TMA’s $16 million budget and 250 employees.
Levine graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College, where he majored in anthropology, art history, and mathematics & social science. He continued his studies as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where he earned his master’s degree with distinction and D.Phil. in the history of art. He publishes widely and is a frequent presenter on topics ranging from ancient art and interpretive strategies, to museum and management practices.
Combining his interests in mathematics and art, in 2009 he co-founded Art Research Technologies, a data and research company that was purchased in 2016 by a London-based finance company. He has founded or advised several other start-ups, including the Center of Visual Expertise at the Toledo Museum of Art. Levine has consulted widely for museums, universities, art market business, and think tanks.
California African American Museum (CAAM)
Cameron Shaw was appointed Executive Director of the California African American Museum (CAAM) in February 2021, after serving as Deputy Director and Chief Curator since September 2019. A native of Los Angeles, Shaw previously served as executive director of New Orleans-based Pelican Bomb, a non-profit contemporary art organization that presented a forum for exhibitions, public programs, and arts journalism. In addition to her institutional practice, Shaw has worked as a writer and editor since 2008. Her writing has been widely published, including in The New York Times, Art in America, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and BOMB Magazine, as well as in numerous books and exhibition catalogues. She was awarded a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing in 2009 and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation | Art in America Writing Fellowship in 2015.
The Fabric Workshop and Museum
Christina Vassallo is Executive Director of The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) in Philadelphia, where she is redefining a living laboratory that creates, presents, and collects experimental works of art. Her role at FWM is supported by her work as a founding member of the Philadelphia Collaborative Arts Consortium and as a member of the Arts & Culture Task Force, which identified policy and budgetary recommendations for Philadelphia City Council to best respond to the economic crisis created by the pandemic. Additionally, she is a 2019-2020 cohort member of National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program, a member of the national association of Contemporary Art Museum Directors (CAMD), and a summer 2022 German Marshall Fellow—an opportunity through which she will study the rebounding of transatlantic cultural spaces from the effects of COVID-19.
From 2014 - 2019 Christina was Executive + Artistic Director of SPACES in Cleveland, where she provided creative direction and oversaw operations for one of the longest-running alternative art organizations in the country. Her most notable SPACES initiatives include launching a capital campaign and spearheading a relocation project, expanding outreach initiatives, developing 2 grant opportunities Cuyahoga County artists, and curating critically acclaimed issue-oriented group exhibitions. While in Cleveland, she was an ex oficio board member of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Contemporary Art Society and a contributor to Cuyahoga Arts & Culture's Support for Artists Planning Team.
Before running SPACES, Christina was based in NYC, working as Executive Director of Flux Factory, where she set the course for a thriving institution comprised of an international artist residency program, acclaimed exhibitions program, and unconventional education initiatives. Additionally, she has curated exhibitions for Everson Museum of Art, Jersey City Museum, NURTUREart, Lafayette College, and New Haven University. Christina also served as Programming Associate of Culture Push, Associate Director of Kinz, Tillou + Feigen Gallery, and Assistant Curator at American Federation of Arts. She holds a B.A. in art history and an M.A. in nonprofit visual arts management from NYU.
Director and CEO
Honolulu Museum of Art
Halona Norton-Westbrook is the Director and CEO of the Honolulu Museum of Art. Founded in 1927, the Honolulu Museum of Art is the largest fine art museum in the state of Hawaiʻi, with an encyclopedic collection of over 55,000 works of art, an art school, theater, and a fine arts library.
Halona was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, lived for several years in London, England while working towards her graduate degrees, and took up her role in Honolulu in January 2020, having most recently served as Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Toledo Museum of Art. Prior to that she was the recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Leadership Fellowship at the Toledo Museum of Art, a program inaugurated in 2012 to train the next generation of museum leaders.
Halona is a passionate advocate for museums and the vital role that they play in providing accessibility to the arts and fostering greater empathy, connection, and creativity in the lives of individuals and communities as a whole. Halona has an expertise in the formation, history, and evolution of museum collections in the 20th century and in Modern and Contemporary Art. She received a B.A. in American History and Studio Art from Mills College, an M.A. in Art History from Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and a Ph.D. in Museology from the University of Manchester.
She and her husband Jim have two daughters, Giovanna and Minerva.
Julie Rodrigues Widholm
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley
Julie Rodrigues Widholm is the director of UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), where she leads the strategic and artistic vision to promote new scholarship, equity, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning in exhibitions, collections, and programs. Prior to BAMPFA, Rodrigues Widholm was director and chief curator at DePaul Art Museum (2015–20) and a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago (1999–2015) specializing in international contemporary art. She has organized more than one hundred solo and group exhibitions, which have been presented at museums across the United States, such as DePaul Art Museum, MCA Chicago, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Perez Art Museum Miami, Nasher Museum at Duke University, MIT List Visual Arts Center, and Nasher Sculpture Center. With a focus on international contemporary art, she has authored or contributed to more than twenty-five publications including “Tropicalia: A Revolution in Brazilian Art,” “Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City,” “Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks,” “Amalia Pica,” “Doris Salcedo,” “Kathryn Andrews: Run for President,” “Barbara Jones-Hogu: Resist, Relate, Unite,” “Brendan Fernandes: As One,” “Julia Fish: Bound by Spectrum,” among others. In 2018, she launched a multi-year Latinx Art Initiative at DePaul Art Museum to generate greater visibility and critical discourse for U.S.-based artists of Latin American descent in art museum collections, exhibitions and public programs.
In 2019, Rodrigues Widholm was named Chicagoan of the Year in Museums by the Chicago Tribune and was named one of Chicago’s ART50 Visual Vanguard by New City in 2015, 2017, and 2019. During the 2016-2017 academic year, she was a Senior Fellow in the Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. She has been an instructor, visiting critic, and graduate advisor at national universities and has given numerous public talks. She holds a BA in Art History and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute, Chicago. She was a Getty Leadership Institute Fellow at Claremont Graduate University in 2019.