Monday, 20 November, 2017

Olga Viso, Embattled Leader of Walker Art Center, Steps Down

Olga Viso executive director of the Walker Arts Center for 10 years will step down from her position at the end of the year after an announcement by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday Nov. 14 2017 Walker Art Center exec. director steps down
Hannah Rogers | 15 November, 2017, 05:44

In 2017, a successful $75 million fund-raising campaign, an ambitious Merce Cunningham exhibit and the reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with over a dozen new works indicated a banner year in the making.

"It has been a privilege to lead this venerable contemporary arts institution the last 10 years and to support the work of some of the most compelling and adventurous worldwide artists working today across disciplinary boundaries", she states via press release.

Olga Viso, executive director of the Walker Arts Center for 10 years, will step down from her position at the end of the year after an announcement by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017.

Ms. Viso took over the position in January 2008 and oversaw notable exhibits including a special project with the Guerrilla Girls and a Pop art retrospective.

There was also controversy this past spring when a structure entitled "Scaffold" by artist Sam Durant was dismantled after an outcry from many in the Native American community. In May of this year, the highly anticipated reopening of the Sculpture Garden was delayed a week when members of the Dakota community and the general public protested a new addition.

"I think Olga's legacy will be tied to the success of the Sculpture Garden and the Walker campus", Fionn Meade, the Walker's former senior curator and artistic director, said in an interview.

Other accomplishments of the Viso years include a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation; a 75th anniversary initiative that added almost 250 new art works from more than 120 donors to the Walker's collections; and greater representation at the Walker of experimental, emerging, local and underrepresented artists including more women and people of color.

One of the most recent-and one of the most dramatic-changes at the museum under Viso's leadership was the redesign of the Walker's campus and the expansion of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which showcases large-scale outdoor works from the Walker's collection. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Viso served as an advisor on a survey of post-revolution Cuban art, "Adios Utopia: Drams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950", that opened at the museum earlier this month. "... We wish her well for her next career opportunity".

The board has established an Office of the Executive Director and will form a search committee.

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