Kaywin Feldman led the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) from 2008–2019 as its Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President. In that time, she has transformed the museum’s relationship to its city, opening its doors to community dialogue, providing free membership, and engaging with the defining social issues of our era, like equity and empathy—including the creation of a Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts at the museum.
She is a past president of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and past chair of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and is a frequent speaker on reinventing the museum for the 21st century. She 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. And she has overseen a series of experimental installations in the museum’s venerable period rooms, exploring new ways of engaging with history.
Feldman galvanized the galleries, and her field, with groundbreaking exhibitions such as At Home with Monsters—featuring the art of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro—and Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty, a dramatic display of Chinese art designed by avant-garde theater artist Robert Wilson. As a curator, she has helped organize popular traveling exhibitions like The Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe’s Greatest Dynasty, which brought dozens of masterpieces to Minneapolis for the museum’s 100th birthday year, in 2015.
Her efforts helped double attendance while bringing international renown to the museum’s art, particularly its Japanese collection, which has more than doubled during her tenure. Other acquisitions include works by Kehinde Wiley, Ai Wei Wei, James McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Feldman’s own 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.