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Curatorial comings and goings at the IMA 

click to enlarge 2009_gr-au-no010.jpg

Word came down last month that the Indianapolis Museum of Art had hired two curators: Tricia Paik, to take over the contemporary department, and Scott Stulen, to assume the newly created post of Curator of Audience Experiences and Performance. We'll have more on both new hires in future issues, but for now let's take a broader look at the curatorial lineup at the museum.

The Indianapolis Star announced that the IMA "filled all curator positions on staff" with Paik's hiring, which is only true if you're convinced by CEO Charles Venable's effort to fill once full-time posts with part-time staff, including a part-timer named Charles Venable. Here's how it works:

Venable has taken over as curator of the design arts department, a post vacated last year by R. Craig Miller ahead of the November opening of a long-gestating design wing. "Since Decorative Arts and Design is my own specialty, I am temporarily acting as a curator for this area," Venable told us last week, adding that he's working on a contemporary glass show opening in May and a silver exhibition for 2015. Venable told us in November 2013 that a "new Curator of Design Arts will likely be announced next Spring."

Paik is taking over as the sole employee in a contemporary department that once included two curators and a full-time assistant, all of whom were fired or resigned last year. Venable told us last year that the new curator "will assess the support needs of the department based on the program going forward." Paik will take over this summer after wrapping up outstanding projects.

Posts that have been long empty will remain empty - at least on a full-time basis - in other wings of the museum. According to Venable, "The curatorial positions in African, Chinese and American art were all eliminated back in 2009-10 because of budget reductions and have not been reinstated."

However, Venable says the museum is making up for absent full-time leadership through a combination of fellowships, guest curators and appointees in the Mellon Curators-at-Large program, launched in 2011 and intended to fill gaps in leadership and scholarship through the temporary guidance of distinguished scholars.

Venable says he plans to appoint Curators-at-Large in African and Native American art, respectively, this summer, with two more on the way in 2015-16. And he reports that James Watts and Amy Poster have completed their run as Curators-at-Large in the areas of Chinese and Southeast Asian art, respectively.

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