The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York on the East End of Long Island is hiring Mónica Ramírez-Montagut as its new director. A native of Mexico, Ramírez-Montagut was most recently the director of Michigan State University’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, she is also the former director of Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Museum and has held curatorial roles at the San Jose Museum of Art, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and the Guggenheim.
The museum’s most recent director, Kelly Taxter, stepped down from the role in 2021 after less than a year in the position. This year marks both the 125th anniversary of the museum's founding and the 10th anniversary of the museum moving into its distinctive Herzog & de Meuron-designed building, which affords it some 12,000 sq. ft of exhibition space.
Ramírez-Montagut describes her ambitions in the new position as being focused on cementing the museum as a staple of the region, hoping to serve individuals well beyond the immediate art audience in the Hamptons.
“My passion is working with living artists, so I look forward to furthering that mission and vision, and I’m also interested in serving our immediate communities at the Parrish. The Parrish has strong partnerships with the surrounding school districts and that community is becoming increasingly diverse,” she says. “I’m interested in bringing in first-time museum visitors and being a destination both for the folks that visit in the summer and for our immediate communities. The first thing to do is to go and meet with local stakeholders. To meet them where they are, to go into the community and introduce myself. This is something I’ll be doing in my first 100 days. Get to know the personality of the region and build upon that. The other thing is to really acknowledge them as important stakeholders and include them in pertinent discussions before our programs are established.”
Ramírez-Montagut adds that she also hopes to implement strategies that will make the museum a less intimidating destination for first-time visitors. She hopes that such visitors “will feel welcome and will feel that they belong”, noting that such strategies might include “signage and having someone at the front desk who can greet you and let you know where to start. If you’re a family or you are an intergenerational group, we want materials for the kids so maybe they can have a scavenger hunt or draw while they’re in the gallery. We know we have different audiences coming in, so can we offer them something at the door that signals to them that we’ve been expecting them and they are welcome.”
“I have a twin sister that recently moved to New York, and my nephew lives there. This feels to me like I’m finally coming home,” Ramírez-Montagut adds. “It feels a little bit like those journeys where you do your road trip and you learn a lot and then you finally come home and bring all your experiences with you. Generally I would do a five-year strategy plan, but here at the Parrish we’re going to do a five-year together with a ten-year plan, so we can start setting goals for ten years from now.”