Art Institute appoints Judith Russi Kirshner as Deputy Director for Education

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Art Institute appoints Judith Russi Kirshner as Deputy Director for Education
Since 1998, Kirshner has served as the Dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Photo: Charlie Dietz.

CHICAGO, IL.- The Art Institute of Chicago announced the appointment of Judith Russi Kirshner as the museum's new Deputy Director for Education and Woman's Board Endowed Chair following a national search. In this newly created position, Kirshner will evaluate all of the museum's educational efforts, collaborations, and partnership programs, and work across the museum and the city to shape a future-oriented and holistic approach to education, outreach, programs, and audiences. Kirshner's appointment reflects a renewed and systematic effort on the part of the Art Institute to expand the museum's audience, enrich the experience of all visitors, and improve access to the museum's renowned collections and exhibitions. She will assume her new position at the Art Institute on March 1, 2013.

"I am thrilled to welcome Judith to the Art Institute," said Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the museum. "Like all other cultural organizations, the Art Institute finds itself in the midst of enormous cultural change, which is reflected in learning styles, models of access to information, and the nature of education itself. It is critical to the museum and its mission that we adapt to these changes and serve as a leader in redefining the role of 'museum education' with a known educational innovator at the helm. Judith is a well respected art historian, curator, author, and educator, and she brings to the museum not only decades of professional accomplishments in the arts but also a deep knowledge of and engagement with the city, visionary ideas, a collaborative spirit, and vast administrative experience at a major Chicagoland institution, where she has been rightly recognized for her creativity and achievements. We are all looking forward to working closely with Judith in the years to come to transform the Art Institute for its 21st-century visitors."

The Department of Museum Education currently serves a diverse range of constituents and purposes, including teacher education programs and curricula development; school programs for approximately 300,000 students per year; weekly family activities; and adult education programs that range from daily gallery talks and lectures to symposia, seminars, and performances. The department is responsible for hundreds of programs and events per year, both inside the museum and throughout Chicagoland via multiple partnerships, tied to both the permanent collection and approximately 30 special exhibitions every year. Given the broad reach of the Department of Museum Education, Kirshner will play a central role in redefining the experience of the museum for all visitors. She will work closely with museum curators in producing programs and interpretive content, develop the museum's schedule for performances and concerts, forge new partnerships both inside the museum and School of the Art Institute as well as reach locally and nationally outside the institution, and integrate new models of thought about education into all activities at the museum.

"I am very pleased to join the Art Institute and its remarkable staff in this exciting opportunity to reimagine programs, enhance and expand dialogues within the large cultural community of Chicago, and engage multiple audiences in innovative models of learning and interpretative experiences for the future," said Kirshner. "Such educational challenges provide a foundation for dynamic collaborations in learning, and I look forward to being a part of an institution embracing these challenges and creatively moving ahead."

Since 1998, Kirshner has served as the Dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her leadership over the past 15 years transformed the College of Architecture and the Arts at UIC into a nationally and internationally recognized leader for education in architecture, design, and the arts. Her tenure at UIC has been marked by her strong commitment to the recruitment and retention of an outstanding and intellectually diverse faculty, staff, and student body; her advocacy and articulate representation of the work of the College; and her rigorous re-evaluation and restructuring of the College's academic programs and leadership structure to build the strongest degree programs possible. Her most significant initiative, which will become official in August 2013, is the reorganization of the College into four academic schools (Architecture, Design, Art & Art History, and Theatre & Music), reflected in its new name, the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts.

Kirshner first joined UIC in 1990 and served as director of the School of Art and Design from 1990 to 1997, where she engaged college faculty, staff, and students, as well as university-based leaders and external partners in major Chicago cultural institutions and community organizations, in wide-ranging endeavors. Part of the multi-college, multi-disciplinary effort to establish the UIC Innovation Center, Kirshner also brought the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum into the College to strengthen and reinforce the museological and public programming reach of this major historical and cultural destination. Under her leadership, the College of Architecture and the Arts received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Graham Foundation, Driehaus Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, Polk Bros. Foundation, After School Matters, and the Chicago Community Trust. Kirshner also led the effort to bring a commissioned work by the artist James Turrell, the UIC Skyspace, to the South Campus and led the initiative to identify and make accessible the Campus Art Collection, which contains the work of many outstanding UIC faculty artists.

Kirshner is also a recognized scholar and critic. Recipient of the Warhol Foundation Award for Criticism, she has focused her scholarship and publications on contemporary art, in particular Italian artists and feminist movements. A contributor to Art in America and Artforum , Kirshner has also published and lectured on the work of artists Judy Ledgerwood, Gordon Matta-Clark, Roni Horn, Tom Otterness, Dan Peterman, and Karen Reimer. She is a member of the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events advisory board, as well as an advisory board member of many national and Chicago-based cultural organizations. She previously served as curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, from 1976 to 1980 and at the Terra Museum of American Art from 1985 to 1987. From 1981 to 1987, she was an assistant professor in the art history department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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