Monday 5 May 2008

Let her down easy ....

An engrossing article from New York Magazine by Andrew M Goldstein details the gradual retiring of Alanna Heiss, founder/director of P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Space.

Heiss founded P.S. 1 in 1976; in 2000 it merged with MoMA. Now Glenn Lowry is gently but firmly nudging Heiss towards retirement.

The article gives an account of the merger of two very different institutions and management styles (imagine if The Physics Room got taken over by Te Papa). But beyond that, it's a really interesting (and seemingly very honest and open) look at when and why galleries need new leadership. Lowry and Heiss are both interviewed, as are former P.S. 1 staffers and Robert Storr:

“It really is exactly the time when the institution should make the transition from its founder’s vision and mode of operation to a new generation,” [Storr] says. “Alanna has built something that is very important to New York. She should be very proud of it and she should be lauded for it, but it has outgrown her, and she needs to graciously let it go.” In the years since the merger, he adds, “it’s become a semi-museum institution, where what it really needs to be is the sexiest, fastest-moving, most dynamic non-museum institution in town.”

Succession planning was on mine and Over the net's minds last year - maybe Art New Zealand could pick up the meme?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

when I first read this and the other posts about Gallery Directors and length of tenure I thought "so?" but I realised yesterday after visiting a gallery how much of a 'gatekeeping' role that directors and can do have (whether they mean to or not) so now I get it :-)