El Museo del Barrio gets new director, Margarita Aguilar
El Museo del Barrio is getting a new director next month, exactly a year after the departure of Julian Zugazagoitia, who left to take over the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. His long-sought replacement is Margarita Aguilar, currently vice president and senior specialist in Latin American art at Christie’s, who previously worked in the museum’s curatorial department from 1998 to 2006.
“Margarita brings a unique combination of proven curatorial excellence and a long connection with El Museo, as well as a broad perspective on the Latin American art world, to her new position as director,” said Tony Bechara, chair of trustees in a press statement released today. “We are delighted to welcome her back.” During her time at El Museo del Barrio, Aguilar curated several shows including “Mexico: The Revolution and Beyond, Photographs by Casasola 1900-1940” (2005) and collaborated on “Retratos: 2,000 Years of Latin American Portraits” (2004) and “Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and 20th-Century Mexican Art: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection” (2002).
“I am thrilled to return to El Museo and look forward to increasing our influence throughout the country and the world, as we also deepen our ties to our community here in El Barrio,” said Aguilar in the statement. She added that “El Museo has become a cultural force, showcasing the vibrancy of Latin American and Latino arts”, but the museum has suffered from its share of financial difficulties. In June, it had to lay off four staff members, including its press officer, to help cut $1.1m from its budget, according to The New York Times.
Two years ago the museum completed a $30m renovation of its East Harlem home, which included new galleries and public spaces to serve a growing audience. In June it opened its sixth, and largest ever, biennial “The (S) Files” (until 8 January 2012), but had to cut back on some of its summer programming. Georgina M. Nichols, the director of finance and administration, has been serving as interim director of El Museo since Zugazagoitia’s departure.