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Block Museum Director Named

Corrin will bring extensive curatorial and art knowledge to her leadership of the Block

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October 19, 2011 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

Lisa Graziose Corrin

Lisa Graziose Corrin (Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell) 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Lisa Graziose Corrin, a former director of the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), has been named the next Ellen Philips Katz Director of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, effective Feb. 1, 2012.

Currently a Clark Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and visiting scholar in museum studies at New York University, Corrin served from 2005 to June 2011 as Class of 1956 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art.

“Lisa will bring extensive curatorial experience, deep knowledge of contemporary art, visionary programming and intellectual leadership to the Block,” said Northwestern President Morton Schapiro. “We are thrilled that, following our national search, she has agreed to head up the Block.”

During her six years as WCMA director, Corrin raised the museum’s campus profile and deepened the museum’s commitment to its teaching mission. She taught graduate and undergraduate students in the Williams art department, and, through the use of the museum, she significantly strengthened faculty and student engagement in teaching and learning across various fields of study. She also raised participation in public programs and related activities, and she continued to develop partnerships with area museums -- the Clark Art Institute and MASS MoCA -- as well as with college and university art museums nationally.

Under Corrin’s directorship, the Williams College Museum of Art presented more than 75 exhibitions, several of which have travelled nationally and internationally to such museums as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, and, most recently, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. WCMA programs received significant press coverage as well as awards for exhibition and publication excellence. The exhibitions were supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and the Terra Foundation, among others.

Last spring the WCMA opened “Reflections on a Museum,” an imaginative reinstallation of all of its permanent collection galleries. Using “the museum” as its subject, the project features 50 loans from the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG). The loans were selected by faculty and museum staff as part of a collection-sharing initiative organized by the YUAG and funded through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Prior to her work at the WCMA, Corrin served as the deputy director of art and the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), as chief curator at the Serpentine Gallery in London and as assistant director and chief curator of the nomadic Contemporary Museum in Baltimore.

At SAM, she was the artistic lead for the new 8.5 acre Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront. The park features the acquisition of a monumental sculpture by Richard Serra; commissions by Louise Bourgeois, Mark Dion, Teresita Fernandez and Roy McMakin; and gifts of sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly, Tony Smith and Roxy Paine, among others. At the Serpentine she curated a wide-ranging exhibition program of artists working internationally, including Richard Artschwager, Gilbert and George, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Andreas Gursky, Hans Haacke, William Kentridge, Brice Marden, Chris Ofili, Bridget Riley, Do-Ho Suh, Gillian Wearing, Rachel Whiteread and Chen Zhen.

Corrin is author of numerous publications on contemporary art and museology. Her book “Mining the Museum, an Installation by Fred Wilson,” based on the artist’s landmark project at the Maryland Historical Society, was awarded the Wittenborn Prize in 1994. She co-authored a monograph on Mark Dion for Phaidon Press in 1997, and she currently is curating a project with Dion on behalf of the Clark Art Institute at the Explorer’s Club in New York, scheduled to open in spring 2012.

Corrin will succeed David Alan Robertson who will retire as the Block director Dec. 31.