Liz Armstrong Assumes New Post at the MIA

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Minneapolis Institute of Art appoints new Assistant Director for Exhibitions and Programs/Curator of Contemporary Art

Minneapolis, MN, June 24, 2008 – The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) today announced the appointment of Elizabeth Neilson Armstrong as its new Assistant Director for Exhibitions and Programs and Curator of Contemporary Art. Recognized for her long record of innovative exhibitions and publications, Armstrong currently serves as Deputy Director for Programs and Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California. Armstrong, who will be a member of the MIA’s senior management team, assumes her new position at the MIA in August 2008.

“Ms. Armstrong’s extensive experience in exhibitions, programs, and management is a great addition to the MIA, as we plan for the future,” said Kaywin Feldman, Director and President of the MIA. “We are very happy to have this talented museum leader join us during a time of strategic change and growth. With Ms. Armstrong on board, we are excited about expanding our contemporary art programming and further invigorating our historic collections by making new connections to contemporary world cultures.”

Armstrong’s previous positions include Acting Director and Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art; Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego; Associate Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Curatorial Assistant at the Lowie Museum of Anthropology in Berkeley, California; Research Assistant at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Grants Administrator at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C.

During her career, Armstrong has been responsible for developing highly successful publications, exhibitions and related programs, including Ultrabaroque: Aspects of Post-Latin American Art (2000), three California Biennials (2002, 2004, 2006), Girl’s Night Out (2003), Mary Heilmann Retrospective (2007), and Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury (2007). In addition, Armstrong was the organizing curator for American Moderns: Villa America, 1900–1950, which was an innovative and well-received paintings exhibition on view at the MIA in 2005–6.

“I’m delighted to be joining the museum with oversight for its exhibitions and a dynamic new contemporary art program,” said Armstrong. “With its esteemed history and tradition, the MIA is known for its superb encyclopedic collection and talented staff. I’m excited to have an opportunity to work with them. Likewise, I’m looking forward to collaborating with Kaywin, the museum’s Board of Trustees, and its patron community. Having spent fourteen formative years as a curator at the Walker Art Center in the 1980s and ‘90s, it is thrilling to be returning – in a new role – to this thriving and progressive community that cares so deeply about its civic and artistic culture.”

In 2007, Armstrong was one of ten U.S. curators selected to participate in the inaugural year of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, which prepares top curators for positions in museum leadership. Armstrong has also served on numerous art advisory panels and exhibition and foundation juries in Minnesota and around the country.

In 2007, she received the “Award for Excellence” for Birth of the Cool, California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury, which was voted the best exhibition catalogue of the year by the Association of Art Museum Curators. She also received the Art to Life Curatorial Award for Birth of the Cool, from Art and Living Magazine, 2008; Special Exhibition Award from the International Association for Art Critics in Germany for Peter Fischli and David Weiss, 1998; International Association for Art Critics Award for In the Spirit of Fluxus catalogue, 1994–95; and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Museum Professionals, 1989.

Armstrong earned a Master of Arts degree in the History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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