MoMA PS1 today revealed Connie Butler as its next director. Butler arrives to the Long Island City, New York, institution from the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where she has served as chief curator since 2013. Known for her commitment to local emerging artists, she was Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings at New York’s Museum of Modern Art from 2006 until her decampment to California. Butler will step into her new role on September 26.
“We are thrilled that Connie Butler will join MoMA PS1 after her outstanding curatorial leadership at the Hammer for the last decade,” said MoMA PS1 board chair Sarah Arison in a statement. “Thanks to our in-depth search process, we welcome a new director who deeply understands MoMA PS1 and our artist-centric DNA, and will ensure that we remain at the forefront of innovative programming that serves our communities locally and internationally.”
“With her close working relationships with artists, both established and emerging, and her long-standing connections to MoMA and New York, we know [Butler] will advance MoMA PS1 in all aspects of its ambitious program,” said MoMA director Glenn Lowry in a statement, adding that he was looking forward to working with her again.
While at MoMA, Butler co-organized the critically acclaimed exhibition “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–80” (2012) and a major survey of the work of Mike Kelley (2013). She curated the 2014 iteration of Made in LA and solo shows of artists including Marisa Merz, Adrian Piper, and Lari Pittman. During her tenure at MoMA, she organized the first major US exhibition of the work of Lygia Clark and in 2010 served as a member of the curatorial team for MoMA PS1’s quinquennial Greater New York. She previously worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, arriving there in 1996 as a curatorial fellow. Among the exhibitions she organized or co-organized there were the museum’s landmark 2007 exhibition “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution,” which she oversaw at MoMA PS1 when the show traveled there in 2008.
Butler replaces Kate Fowle, who departed MoMA PS1 last June after three years in the role. The British-born Fowle came to the position, which had been vacant for a year, after longtime leader Klaus Biesenbach left to lead LA MoCA (he is now head of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie). Fowle had been on the job barely seven months when the global Covid-19 crisis struck; this spring, she accepted the position of senior curatorial director at blue-chip gallery Hauser & Wirth.
“MoMA PS1 has a remarkable and important history, a rich and exciting present-day community of staff, artists, and audiences, and a potential that seems unlimited,” said Butler in a statement. “I am honored to have been chosen to lead this institution, and I look forward to working with the board and staff as we continue its mission serving the New York and Queens communities, as well as the broader international network of artists who represent MoMA PS1’s incredible past and future.”