Nancy Spector: Curating Art and Activism
Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Guggenheim Museum
As of December 2015 Nancy Spector was appointed as the Deputy Director and Chief Curator at Brooklyn Museum. She assumes her new role starting April 2016. Nancy served as curator at the Guggenheim from 1989 to 2015, Nancy Spector worked closely with the Director to define the museum’s global strategy and oversee the creative programming for the institution and its affiliates around the world. She organized exhibitions on conceptual photography, Felix Gonzalez Torres, Matthew Barney’s Cremaster cycle, Richard Prince, Louise Bourgeois, Marina Abramovic, Tino Sehgal, and Maurizio Cattelan. She was Adjunct Curator of the 1997 Venice Biennale and co-organizer of the first Berlin Biennial in 1998. She is a recipient of the Peter Norton Family Foundation Curators Award, five International Art Critics Association Awards and a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award for her work on Youtube Play, a Biennial of Creative Video.
Innovating in Field of Work:
As a curator of contemporary art with a deep-seated feminist and political agenda, she has sought ways in which to bring her work out of the rarefied atmosphere of the museum. This has taken many forms, from curating an exhibition of work by a gay, Hispanic artist who died from AIDS in the American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and inviting Laura Dawn from Moveon.org to speak in his place at the press conference, to now working to help address migrant labor issues in Abu Dhabi, where the Guggenheim is building a new museum.
• Bringing joy and meaning to more people’s lives.
• Recently named one of ArtNETs 25 Art World Women at the Top
• Insuring that the Guggenheim supports contemporary artists and realizes their visions
• As a professional with two children (now entering adolescence) she has very visibly integrated her roles as mother and curator at the museum. She claims to have done it out of necessity but also as a political statement. By setting this precedent she is helping to support a younger generation of women at the institution who are building their families with flex time, support groups, and, perhaps, most importantly an atmosphere that values the work/life balance over everything else.
• She is in the process of establishing an interdisciplinary group of advisers for the museum, many of whom will be women, to help envision the Guggenheim’s presence in the digital realm and how the museum can enhance its on-line activities to further its educational mission.
Reinvention / Risk / Momentum:
She has become increasingly involved in expanding the museum as a site for social good, harnessing the creative activity of artists, musicians, dancers, performers, and architects to present a transformative and ethical platform.
“It’s a question of trying to stay as true to intent and aesthetics. I guess that’s what curators do too. It’s working forwards and not working backwards.”