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Museum hiring rebounds? US institutions announce a string of appointments to leadership and curatorial positions

It is still not clear how quickly the lower levels of staff, which were hardest hit by pandemic job losses, will recover

From left: Legacy Russel, Carson Chan and Tim Rodgers

While the arts industry may take a while to fully recover from the onslaught of job losses caused by the pandemic, especially among the lower tiers of staff that were hardest hit by layoffs, hirings at the higher end of the field seems to be rebounding, with a number of museums in the US announcing new appointments or promotions to leadership and curatorial positions.

The curator Legacy Russell has been named as the next executive director and chief curator of the independent New York art space The Kitchen, which turns 50 this year. Russell takes up the post in September and will be coming from The Studio Museum in Harlem, where she has been associate curator of exhibitions and led its artist-in-residence programme.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has named architecture writer and curator Carson Chan as its inaugural director of the new Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment, a new platform at the institution that will focus on the relationship between architecture and ecology, starting this summer. Chan will also serve as a curator in the museum’s Department of Architecture and Design.

New York’s Museum of Art and Design has appointed Tim Rodgers as its new director, starting 15 September. Rodgers currently serves as the director and CEO of the Phoenix Art Museum, where he expanded and diversified the museum’s holdings, and before that he worked at The Wolfsonian-Florida International University in Miami, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe.

From left: Valerie Paley, Joy Bivins, Horace Ballard and Sarah Kennel

The New-York Historical Society has announced that Valerie Paley has been promoted to director of the institution’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, from 1 July. Paley will continue to serve as the senior vice president at the organisation, and was previously chief historian, as well as the founding director of the institution’s Center for Women’s History.

And Joy Bivins has been named the director of Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library, after serving for a year as associate director of collections and research services there. She was previously the chief curator of the International African American Museum, in Charleston, South Carolina, and the director of curatorial affairs at the Chicago History Museum.

Horace Ballard has been appointed as the Harvard Art Museums’ new curator of American art, starting 1 September. Ballard currently holds the same position at the Williams College Museum of Art, and he has previously worked at the historic site Monticello/Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia.

Finally the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has named Sarah Kennel as the curator of photography and the director of its Raysor Center for the study of photography, prints and drawings. Kennel comes to the institution in September from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta where she has also served as photography curator.