Curators Eric Crosby (left) and Bart Ryan discuss "Painter Painter" exhibition at Walker Art Center
Minneapolis' two major art museums have each lost another curator.
Eike Schmidt, a German expert on European sculpture who has led the Minneapolis Institute of Art's decorative arts department since 2009, has been named the director of the prestigious Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
"We are very sorry to see Eike leave us, but delighted for him," the institute's director, Kaywin Feldman, told the AP in a statement. "The Uffizi is one of the world's greatest museums and I am terribly proud to have [a curator from Minneapolis] assume the directorship there."
Schmidt (pictured at right) was instrumental in mounting the museum's big spring show "The Habsburgs." His departure leaves the institute with three key vacancies to fill after losing its contemporary art curator, Elizabeth Armstrong, eight months ago and photo curator David Little who is departing this month. Armstrong is now executive director of the Palm Springs Art Museum in southern California. Little will head the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College starting August 31.
Meanwhile, Walker Art Center announced Tuesday that associate curator Eric Crosby is leaving Minneapolis for a post at the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMA) in Pittsburgh starting Oct. 5. As the Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art he will oversee the museum's collection, which, like the Walker's, focuses on post-World War II art from 1945 to the present.
Crosby, 35, is the second Walker curator to decamp for Pittsbugh in the past six months. He follows Bart Ryan, who started work May 18 at Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum, where he is the Milton Fine Curator of Art.
Jobs that are named after benefactors such as Milton Fine, or after beloved museum personnel such as former CMA director and curator Richard Armstrong, are generally backed by hefty endowments that assure handsome salaries for the curators and help insulate the positions from the financial upheavals that sometimes trouble cultural institutions. The named chairs are also considered plum positions that enhance resumes and boost the clout of the individuals who hold them.
Walker's curatorial department has seen considerable churn in the past two years as chief curator Darsie Alexander left in March 2014 to be director of the Katonah Museum of Art in Westchester County north of New York City. Her successor, Fionn Meade, now heads a curatorial department that includes Siri Engberg, who focuses on the collection and special exhibitions, moving image curator Sheryl Mousley, and performing arts curator Philip Bither.
Walker has launched a national search to fill the two open curatorial positions and anticipates that "hiring announcements will be made this fall," said artistic director Meade.
Crosby joined the Walker staff in 2009 and during his six year tenure organized "Art Expanded: 1958-1978," featuring the center's Fluxus collection; "Painter Painter," which showcased innovative approaches to the canvas; and the current exhibit of Liz Deschenes' minimalist photo-sculptures.
Besides working with the Carnegie's collection, Crosby will help select art for purchase from the Carnegie International, an influential survey of contemporary art that the museum stages every three to five years.