Jennifer Komar Olivarez

Jennifer Komar Olivarez joined the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 1991 as an intern, and has since helped Mia become a destination for its collection of modern design and craft. She served as a curator in the Decorative Arts department for 25 years, specializing in architecture, craft, and design, particularly from the 19th century to today. As Head of Exhibition Planning and Strategy, she continues to oversee the museum’s Purcell-Cutts House. She received her Master’s from the University of Minnesota and a diploma in Decorative Arts from the University of Glasgow. A native of southeast Missouri, her frequent trips to the Gateway Arch in nearby St. Louis sparked an interest in Finnish father-and-son architects and designers Eero and Eliel Saarinen that later fueled her involvement in an international exhibition of Eero’s work (co-hosted in Minneapolis by Mia and the Walker Art Center). This led to a major project on Finnish contemporary design, craft, and architecture. She also led a major retrospective of Minnesota architect and designer Ralph Rapson, including his lesser-known furniture designs, filling out his legacy beyond architecture. An avid collector of mid-century design, particularly Scandinavian, she is also widely sought as an expert on the Prairie School.

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