The National Gallery has announced the end of its search for a new director. Kaywin Feldman, currently the head of the Minneapolis Institute for Art, will become the National Gallery’s fifth director succeeding Earl Powell who has held the position for more than 25 years. Feldman has been in charge in Minneapolis for a decade where she made the institute free to the public. Here’s the NGA’s description of her time in Minnesota:
Kaywin Feldman is a champion of digital technology for expanding access to art. Feldman established a contemporary art department at Mia and new galleries for showcasing the art of Africa. She has overseen a series of experimental installations in the museum’s venerable period rooms, exploring new ways of engaging with history.
Feldman has galvanized the galleries and her field with groundbreaking exhibitions such as At Home with Monsters (2017), which featured the art of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, and Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty (2018), a dramatic display of Chinese art designed by avant-garde theater artist Robert Wilson. As a curator, she has helped organize popular traveling exhibitions, includingThe Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe’s Greatest Dynasty (2015), which brought dozens of masterpieces to Minneapolis for the museum’s 100th birthday year.
Her efforts have helped double attendance while bringing international renown to the museum’s art, particularly its Japanese collection, which has more than doubled in size during her tenure. Other acquisitions include works by Kehinde Wiley, Ai Wei Wei, James McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Born in 1966 in Boston, Massachusetts, Feldman’s fascination with museums began with childhood visits and an early interest in archaeology. She earned her BA in classical archaeology from the University of Michigan and an MA from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London. She also earned an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, specializing in Dutch and Flemish art, and received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Memphis College of Art in 2008. Before coming to Mia, she was the director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee from 1999 to 2007.