Andrew Blauvelt, Walker Art Center’s influential senior curator of design, is leaving after 17 years to head the Cranbrook Art Museum in suburban Detroit.
Director Olga Viso announced his departure in a memo to Walker staff Tuesday afternoon. Citing Blauvelt’s many curatorial and administrative roles, Viso said he had “ably served” the Walker and was a “vital strategic thinker.”
Cranbrook is a smaller institution than the Walker, “but they’re very ambitious, so there’s actually a lot of potential there to do more experimental initiatives and projects,” Blauvelt said. In addition to overseeing Cranbrook’s visual art, design and craft collections, he will deal with “technology-related issues.”
Blauvelt is the seventh senior staffer to leave the Walker within the past 18 months: four curators plus the heads of its marketing, new media and education departments.
Chief curator Darsie Alexander left in January 2014 to head the Katonah Museum of Art in suburban New York; assistant curator Bart Ryan departed in May to be the Milton Fine curator of art at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and associate curator Eric Crosby is also going to Pittsburgh in September 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.
He begins work at Cranbrook on Oct. 1.
Known as a bastion of modernist design, the Cranbrook Museum is part of a 319-acre complex in Bloomfield Hills, outside Detroit, that includes the Cranbrook Academy of Art where Blauvelt earned his MFA in 1988.
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 award-winning previous Walker shows include “Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses” (2005), “Ideas for Modern Living” (2002), “Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life” (2003), “World Away: New Suburban Landscapes” (2008) and “Graphic Design: Now in Production” (2011).
Blauvelt’s spouse, Scott Winter, development director at the Weisman Art Museum, also will join the Cranbrook staff as director of development for the Cranbrook Academy and Museum.