MINNEAPOLIS—January 13, 2022—The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) today announced the appointment of Dr. Rachel McGarry as the new Elizabeth MacMillan Chair of European Art. McGarry, who will assume the role immediately, will lead one of Mia’s largest and most diverse curatorial departments. In her capacity as Chair, McGarry will also serve as the museum’s Curator of European Paintings and Works on Paper. She will oversee the scholarship, display, and preservation of more than 35,000 works in various mediums from the Classical World to the present. McGarry fills a position created by a recent reorganization at Mia wherein previously separate collections of paintings, decorative arts, sculpture, and works on paper were brought together under the aegis of the newly formed Department of European Art.
McGarry’s appointment comes after an extensive international search conducted by Sally M. Sterling Executive Search.
“Rachel is a respected scholar and an amazingly energetic and productive curator. She has repeatedly demonstrated her willingness to tackle complicated projects and bring them to fruition with grace and insight,” said Katie Luber, Nivin and Duncan McMillan Director and President at Mia. “The museum will soon embark on the reinstallation of its extensive collections of European and American art, and in the course of our extensive international search, it became clear that Rachel’s leadership, dedication, and intellect made her the obvious choice.”
Since joining the staff at Mia in 2006, McGarry has organized numerous exhibitions. Most recently, in 2021 she organized the show “Envisioning Evil: ‘The Nazi Drawings’ by Mauricio Lasansky” (2021–22), examining Lasansky’s 1960s series of monumental drawings confronting the Holocaust. The accompanying catalogue considers the shifting understanding of the Holocaust in postwar America and the legacy of Adolf Eichmann’s 1961 trial in Jerusalem. In 2014 she organized the exhibition “Marks of Genius: 100 Drawings from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts,” and oversaw the important publication that accompanied the show. Presently she is co-curating the exhibition “Botticelli and Renaissance Florence: Masterworks from the Uffizi” in partnership with the Uffizi Galleries. Opening this fall at Mia, the show will be one of the most comprehensive shows on Botticelli ever staged in the United States.
“The opportunity to lead Mia’s Department of European Art is an incredible honor,” said McGarry. “I fell in love with the collection in elementary school, on fieldtrips and family visits, delighting in the experience of being transported to distant times and places. It was only during my graduate studies in New York and Italy that I came to appreciate its significance and depth. Mia’s collection continues to captivate me, and I am excited to work with our talented curatorial team to bring these extraordinary works of art to life for a new generation of visitors.”
McGarry earned an MA and PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, specializing in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. Her dissertation examined the early career of Guido Reni and his activities in Bologna and Rome. Before coming to Mia, she worked at Christie’s in New York and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as an exhibition assistant in Drawings and Prints and research assistant in European Paintings.
While at Mia, she has championed the acquisition of many important objects, including Jacopo de’ Barbari’s monumental woodcut of a View of Venice (1500), Paolo Guidotti’s panel painting of Crucified Christ Triumphant over Death, Evil, and Sin (1621), and a French Gothic coffer with an Annunciation woodcut (c. 1490). She has also worked to expand the collection of European drawings significantly, which has grown by over 30 percent since her arrival. Through major gifts and purchases, Mia’s holdings of Italian drawings has likewise grown fourfold, and now includes masterworks by Guercino, the Carracci, Francesco Guardi, Federico Zuccaro, among others.
“Rachel’s broad art historical knowledge as well as her unique awareness of the challenges and opportunities at Mia make her ideally suited lead our Department of European Art,” said Matthew Welch, Mary Ingebrand-Pohlad Deputy Director and Chief Curator. “I look forward to working with Rachel as part of Mia’s dynamic team of curatorial leaders to re-envision the presentation of our collections to better serve our various audiences.”
About Mia’s Collection of European Art
Mia’s Department of European art is home to four curators and two curatorial fellows who research, manage, and judiciously expand an internationally acclaimed collection of some 35,000 artworks in all media, dating from antiquity to the present day, presenting them in over 50 permanent gallery spaces through exhibitions and programs. Many of the greatest European artists from the Renaissance to the present are represented, often in considerable depth and quality, and in various media. Mia’s acclaimed collection of European paintings, prints, and drawings offers a broad survey and includes some of the most accomplished works by innovative and influential artists, with rich holdings of Italian Baroque, seventeenth-century Dutch, and Fauve, Cubist, German Expressionist, and Contemporary works. The department’s textile collection has gained an international reputation for both its historic works and contemporary fiber art. A particular strength of Mia’s decorative arts collection includes English and Continental silver, particularly from the eighteenth century. European sculpture from ancient times to the 1960s includes Mia’s famed Doryphoros and important works by Amedeo Modigliani, Sir Jacob Epstein, Constantin Brancusi, Henri Matisse, and Henry Moore.