Molesworth joins the ICA at a pivotal time in the institution’s history

After an extensive search, the Institute of Contemporary Art has appointed a new chief curator, Helen Molesworth, effective February 22.

A distinguished scholar, writer, and curator, Molesworth comes to the ICA from the Harvard Art Museum where she served as head of the department of modern and contemporary art and the museum’s Houghton Curator of Contemporary Art.

"When Harvard announced the appointment of Helen Molesworth, I was struck by the brilliance of the hire," says Jill Medvedow, director of the Institute of Contemporary Art. "Helen is a curatorial force and will elevate the ICA to a new level of leadership; she combines keen intelligence, insight, scholarship and a distinctive vision for the history of and future for contemporary art. Helen has the respect and admiration of artists, curators, directors, and collectors; even more she has their affection. Visitors to the ICA will be inspired and delighted by Helen’s ability to connect audiences with art, ideas, history and the consistent joy of discovery that contemporary art offers."

"Our visionary director, Jill Medvedow, has built a world-class museum and has now attracted a world-class chief curator," notes Barbara Lee, vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Contemporary Art. "Helen Molesworth is an extraordinary curator for her ability to present leading-edge art in ways that are personal and accessible. Helen’s curatorial leadership will take the ICA to a new level of prominence and influence in Boston and in the international art world."

Molesworth joins the ICA at a pivotal time in the institution’s history. In 2006, the ICA became the first new art museum to be built in Boston in almost 100 years; its iconic building on the waterfront has drawn more than 800,000 visitors to date. Now approaching its 75th year (2011), the ICA is recognized locally and nationally for its prescient exhibitions and programs, architecture and civic leadership.

"It is with genuine pleasure and enthusiasm that I join the team at the ICA," says Molesworth. "The ICA has a unique history—being simultaneously one of the oldest museums of contemporary art in the country, and, in its current building, one of the newest. This commitment to the then and the now perfectly defines a museum dedicated to the art of our time," says Molesworth.

While at the Harvard Art Museum, Molesworth organized a number of noteworthy exhibitions including Long Life Cool White: Photographs by Moyra Davey and ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987–1993. As guest curator at Harvard University’s Carpenter Center for the Arts, she organized Corbu Pops, an installation by William Pope.L; Paul Chan: Three Easy Pieces; and Felix Gonzales-Torres: "Untitled" (Placebo – Landscape – for Roni), among other exhibitions.

Prior to joining Harvard, Molesworth was chief curator of exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, overseeing the center's exhibitions, programs, and publications. There she co-curated the first United States retrospective of Luc Tuymans as well as the critically acclaimed Part Object, Part Sculpture. She also served as curator of contemporary art at the Baltimore Museum of Art from 2000 to 2002, where she organized the show, Work Ethic. From 1997 to 1999, she was director and curator of the Amelie A. Wallace Gallery at State University of New York (SUNY), Old Westbury. Molesworth also served as senior critic at the Yale School of Art and has held teaching positions at the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies; SUNY, Old Westbury; and the Cooper Union School of Art. She was a co-founding editor of Documents, a magazine of contemporary visual culture, and is the author of numerous articles appearing in publications such as Art Journal, Artforum, Documents, and October. She received a Ph.D. in the history of art from Cornell University in 1997.

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