Andrew Blauvelt, Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Andrew Blauvelt, the influential Design Director and Curator at Walker Art Center, is leaving after 17 years to head the Cranbrook Art Museum in suburban Detroit. 

Walker director Olga Viso announced his departure in a memo to Walker staff Tuesday afternoon. Citing his various curatorial and administrative roles, Viso described Blauvelt as a "vital strategic thinker" while the Walker developed plans to renovate its campus. 

He will be the fourth senior curatorial staffer to leave the Walker within the past 18 months. Chief curator Darsie Alexander left in January 2014 to head the Katonah Museum of Art in suburban New York; associate curator Bart Ryan departed in May to become the Milton Fine Curator of Art at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and assistant curator Eric Crosby is also going to Pittsburgh next month for a curatorial post at the Carnegie Museum of Art

Under Blauvelt's leadership Walker's design studio garnered more than 80 national and international awards. The studio's work was profiled in an exhibition at the Design Museum in London in 2002. Blauvelt was named one of the "100 most significant" graphic designers of his era in a 2004 survey published by Phaidon Press.

Known as a bastion of modernist design, the Cranbrook museum is part of a 319-acre art and design complex in Bloomfield Hills, outside Detroit, that includes the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where Blauvelt earned his MFA in 1988. Cranbrook's faculty, staff and students have included architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen, furniture designers Ray and Charles Eames, textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, and artists Donald Lipski, Duane Hanson and Nick Cave. 

Blauvelt's most recent exhibition for the Walker, "Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia," will open Oct. 24 and will travel to Cranbrook after its Minneapolis debut. His previous Walker shows include "Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses," (2005), "Ideas for Modern Living" (2002) and "Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life," (2003).

Blauvelt will begin work at Cranbrook in October. His spouse Scott Winter, the development director at the Weisman Art Museum, will also joint the Cranbrook staff as director of development for the Cranbrook Academy and Museum.   

Before joining the Walker in 1998, Blauvelt was Associate Professor of Graphic Design and chaired the design department  at North Carolina State University. He has a long association with Cranbrook, serving at one point as interim chair of the design department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He was also visiting professor in the graduate programs of the Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastrict, the Netherlands; the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota; and the University of the Americas, Pueblo, Mexico.