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Seattle Art Museum Appoints Theresa Papanikolas as Curator of American Art

Theresa Papanikolas.


The Seattle Art Museum has hired Theresa Papanikolas, who currently serves as deputy director of art and programs at the Honolulu Museum of Art, as curator of American art. She will begin at SAM in January 2019.

In her new role, Papanikolas will oversee the development, research, and presentation of SAM’s collection of American art. She replaces Patricia Junker, who retired from the position in spring 2018 after 13 years at the museum.

Papanikolas began her tenure at the Honolulu Museum of Art in 2008 as curator of European and American art. A specialist in 19th- and 20th-century American art, she organized such shows for the Honolulu Museum of Art as “From Whistler to Warhol: Modernism on Paper” (2010), “Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaiʻi Pictures” (2013), and “Abstract Expressionism: Looking East from the Far West” (2017). Earlier this year she collaborated with the New York Botanical Garden for the exhibition “Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii.”

Before joining the Honolulu Museum of Art, Papanikolas was a curatorial fellow at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has also held positions at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Rice University, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.

Papanikolas said in a statement, “American art at SAM is rich with potential, and I look forward to building on Patricia Junker’s legacy and collaborating with the museum’s many stakeholders to shape a collection and exhibition program that is truly exceptional. What attracts me most about SAM is the spirit of diversity and excellence that not only drives the museum in all of its aspects, but also mirrors Seattle itself.”

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