Walker Arts Center announces departure of executive director

Angelo Anderson
November 15, 2017

One of the most recent-and one of the most dramatic-changes at the museum under Viso's leadership was the redesign of the Walker's campus and the expansion of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which showcases large-scale outdoor works from the Walker's collection. The sculpture was erected as part of the garden remodel. The museum's board has now established what it is calling an Office of the Executive Director that will fulfill Viso's duties while the museum searches for a new director. During that time, the museum has added over 5,000 new items to its collection, including props, videos, costumes, and other ephemera from dance giant Merce Cunningham. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Viso served as an advisor on a survey of post-revolution Cuban art, "Adios Utopia: Drams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950", that opened at the museum earlier this month. As an expert in Latin American arts, Viso brought in unique shows and collaborations with artists including the Guerrilla Girls and Guillermo Kuitca. Viso addressed gaps in the Walker's historical holdings and brought greater diversity to the museum.

Ms. Viso faced difficulties within the museum as well, as two dozen staff members had departed within the a year ago, out of a staff of just under 120. In May of this year, the highly anticipated reopening of the Sculpture Garden was delayed a week when members of the Dakota community and the general public protested a new addition.

Reopening festivities for the garden were overshadowed by the controversy surrounding artist Sam Durant's "Scaffold", a sculpture based on the designs of historic gallows, including one used to execute 38 Dakota men following the 1862 U.S. -Dakota War in southern Minnesota. When word got out that what looked like a big piece of playground equipment was something far darker - and had been built on Dakota land - a media firestorm erupted.

The Walker ordered the sculpture dismantled.

The team assembled to lead the museum during the search for a new executive director includes Chief Advancement Officer Christopher Stevens, CFO Mary Polta, Senior Curator Siri Engberg and Human Resources Director Rishi Donat.

Viso led an eight-year effort to transform the Walker Art Center.

"I think we very much regret the pain and suffering the work is causing in our local community", Viso said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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