Just months before Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond, Virginia, inaugurates its new Steven Holl–designed home in Richmond, its founding director, Lisa Freiman announced today that she is stepping down, effective immediately.
Freiman was hired in 2013 from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where she was curator of contemporary art and oversaw the creation of a sculpture garden called 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. Today’s news, which was first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, comes as a surprise so close to the opening of the hotly anticipated new ICA building, which had been scheduled to open last October but was reportedly delayed because of issues relating to climate control inside the structure.
In a release announcing Freiman’s departure, which noted her work completing a $37-million capital campaign for the museum, VCU’s provost, Gail Hackett, praised the director’s leadership and said, “We especially appreciate how Lisa advanced the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the arts and worked to integrate the strategic goals of the university into the ICA.”
Freiman will stay on at VCU as a faculty member and is at work on a monograph about Claes Oldenburg.
“It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the inaugural director of the ICA over the past five years and to have the opportunity to shape an institution from the ground up,” Freiman said in a statement. “With the completion of the capital campaign last fall, the launch of the endowment campaign and a dynamic roster of exhibitions and programs in place for the opening and beyond, I would like to turn my attention to some projects that I had to put on hold.”
The university’s statement said that interim leadership for the ICA will be announced shortly and a national search for a new director will begin over the next few months.