MoMA PS1 has a new director. Connie Butler, the chief curator of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, is to leave her position in California and will join the New York museum on 26 September.
Her appointment to the Queens institution marks something of a return. She worked as the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) chief curator of drawings 2006-13, during which time she curated or co-curated WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (2008), Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 (2012) and the posthumous Mike Kelley retrospective (2013-14).
She will run MoMA’s affiliate PS1 museum, which is housed in a 19th-century public schoolhouse in Long Island City. MoMA has an annual operating budget of $165m and contributes 25 percent of PS1’s $11m budget.
In a statement, Sarah Arison, chair of the board of MoMA PS1, said Butler
“deeply understands MoMA PS1 and our artist-centric DNA”. Glenn Lowry,
MoMA’s director, called Butler a “trailblazing curator and scholar”.
While at the Hammer, Butler recently oversaw the exhibition Selections from the Hammer Contemporary Collection (2023), which opened the museum’s recently completed expansion.
She succeeds Kate Fowle, who resigned in summer 2022. Fowle’s three-year tenure coincided with the lockdowns and economic travails
of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as social unrest brought about by events such as the murder of George Floyd. Fowle did not publicly offer a reason for her departure.
In a statement, Butler paid testament to the work Fowle did to connect MoMA PS1 with local constituencies, pledging to “continue its mission serving the New York and Queens communities”.
Butler began her career at the Des Moines Arts Center in Iowa before going on to hold curatorial posts at the Neuberger Museum of Art and Artists Space in New York. She joined the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1996 before making a similar cross-country journey to New York to join MoMA in 2006.