Sheena Wagstaff has been named chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new modern and contemporary department, effective this spring. She has been chief curator of Tate Modern in London since 2001.
At the Tate, Wagstaff curated exhibitions on such artists as Edward Hopper, Jeff Wall and Juan Muñoz. She co-curated the upcoming Roy Lichtenstein retrospective with James Rondeau of the Art Institute of Chicago [where it debuts, May 16–Sept. 3]. As chief curator at Tate Modern, she has overseen the organization of over 60 major exhibitions originated at the Tate, ranging from those on Kandinsky and Duchamp to Eva Hesse and Francis Alÿs. Wagstaff also initiated the popular commission program in the Turbine Hall, which has featured large-scale installations by Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, Ai Weiwei and others.
Wagstaff replaces longtime Met curator Gary Tinterow, who since 2008 was chair of the department of 19th-century, modern and contemporary art. He is now director of the Houston MFA. Wagstaff is being brought in as the Met expands its contemporary programming. Her appointment also reflects a departmental restructuring at the museum that moves 19th-century art into the department of European paintings.
Last May, the Met entered into an arrangement with the Whitney Museum of American Art to share the Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue. As part of the eight-year agreement, which has an option to extend-the Met will use the building for its modern and contemporary programming. On May 24, 2011, the Whitney broke ground for its new Renzo Piano-designed building at the terminus of the High Line, in the Meatpacking District, which is scheduled to open in 2015.
Wagstaff studied art and architecture history at the University of East Anglia and later took part in the Whitney’s Independent Study Program. She has worked at a number of prominent institutions, including the museum of Modern Art, Oxford; Whitechapel Gallery in London; and the Frick Art Center in Pittsburgh.