In her first year on the job as director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), Julie Rodrigues Widholm has made three senior-level staff hires across different departments. Today, she is announcing a fourth: Christina Yang as her new chief curator.
Yang is currently the deputy director of engagement and curator of education at the Williams College Museum of Art in Massachusetts and was previously the director of public programmes at the Guggenheim Museum in New York for 14 years, overseeing artists’ commissions, film screenings, scholarly symposia and other events. Before that, she served as the media director and visual art curator at the Kitchen, the experimental art and performance space in downtown New York.
“Her interdisciplinary background was very exciting to me as well the fact that she’s been a curator of exhibitions and curator of public programmes, most recently at the Williams College Museum of Art, one of the premiere academic museums in the country,” said Rodrigues Widholm. “I think her public programming background is an asset in thinking about how to put audiences at the forefront of what we’re doing.”
Rodrigues Widholm noted that Yang has strengths in some of BAMPFA’s core areas, like conceptual art, new media and performance. She also said the hire reflects the museum’s commitment to seeing art “through a lens that is intersectional, interdisciplinary and intergenerational”.
The museum’s previous director, Larry Rinder, had assumed chief curator duties himself, but the university determined the roles should be separated before hiring Rodrigues Widholm in 2020. She said she conducted the search this year with the help of an inhouse group known as Berkeley Executive Search and “cast a wide net”, interviewing 24 candidates by phone.
Rodrigues Widholm has also been busy filling other jobs, vacated for different reasons. She appointed Justin Glasson, who led the Hammer Museum’s recent capital campaign, as director of development. She hired Aimée Goggins, previously at University of California Press, as head of marketing and communications. And she named John Alexander, from New York’s Morgan Library & Museum, as director of collections and exhibitions.
Yang is expected to start work in her new position on 1 November. Her move to the Bay Area will be something of a homecoming, as she spent her teenage years in the South Bay, studied at Berkeley—and once had an internship at BAMPFA.