KANSAS CITY, MO.- The Board of Trustees of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art announced that Barbara OBrien, the Museums current chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections, will become the Kemper Museums new director effective immediately. OBrien is a curator and critic with a strong record of scholarship and advocacy in the contemporary art arena. Until the end of the year, she will serve as Director and Chief Curator.
The Museums trustees and I are excited to promote from within the organization, said R. Crosby Kemper, founder and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Museum. Kemper added, Barbara OBrien brings a wealth of curatorial and executive experience to the position.
OBrien said about her appointment, I am honored to be asked by the Board of Trustees to lead the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art as it approaches its twentieth anniversary. My career has taken me from San Francisco to St. Paul and most recently Boston, but as a native Midwesterner I feel the most pride in the growing reputation of the Kemper Museum on a national level.
In her nearly three years at the Museumfirst as Curator in 2009 and then as Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions and Collections in 2011OBrien has organized exhibitions that will travel across the United States to museums in Portland, Maine; Washington, DC; and Naples, Florida. She has curated a number of exhibitions, including Lois Dodd: Catching the Light, Eric Fertman: Heres Your Hat, Whats Your Hurry?, Wilbur Neiwald: The Studio Portrait, Jeanne Quinn: Ceramic In(ter)ventions, The Big Reveal, Ana Maria Hernando: When the Women Sing, and a series of exhibitions called Acquisitions in Context highlighting works by Marc Swanson, Eric Forstmann, and June Ahrens. During her tenure, the Kemper Museum has added works of art to the permanent collection by artists from Germany, Ireland, Argentina, China, Japan, Egypt, Morocco, and from across the United States, including works by artists from Kansas City and the surrounding region. She has also overseen renovations and a redesign of gallery spaces at Kemper at the Crossroads.
OBrien added, my goal is to let works of art inspire our first-time visitors; to embrace and engage our returning visitors; and to contribute to the introduction of a new vocabulary for our young visitors as well as supporting the life-long learning goals of our adult visitors. The Kemper Museum has always been a great first introduction to contemporary art with a welcoming scale, light-filled architecture, and a dynamic collection that is in conversation with the important trends of our time.
Before joining the Kemper Museum, OBrien from 200608 was an Assistant Professor of Art at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts and also served as director of the Colleges Trustman Art Gallery and head of its Arts Administration program. She was editor in chief of Art New England magazine (200306). From 19902001, OBrien was the Director of the Gallery and Visiting Artist Program at Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Massachusetts.
OBrien is currently a member of the national Board of Directors of ArtTable, Executive Women in the Arts; and an elected member of International Association of Art Critics. She is a 2012 and 2013 juror for the Jentel Artist Residency, Jentel Foundation in Banner, Wyoming. In 2012, she served as a member of the award jury for the Charlotte Street Foundations Visual Artist Awards and as the sole juror for the International Alumni Exhibition for the Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, DC. In 2006, OBrien received the National Alumni Award for Professional Achievement from Rhode Island School of Design, and in 200506, she was a visiting scholar at the Womens Studies Research Center at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. She holds a masters degree in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as bachelors degrees in womens studies and journalism from the University of Kansas.
OBrien replaces Rachael Blackburn Cozad, who resigned her position in May.