Following recent news that the Milwaukee Art Museum had received an $8 million endowment to fund a new directorship, the museum has announced the appointment of Dr. Marcelle Polednik as the first Donna and Donald Baumgartner director following a rigorous national search. Polednik, who currently serves as director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, will begin her new role in mid-August, replacing Dan Keegan.
At MOCA Jacksonville, Polednik significantly bolstered the museum’s exhibition lineup in both quantity and quality, introducing self-curated shows such as “SLOW: Marking Time in Photography and Film” (2012), “Abstraction over Time: The Paintings of Michael Goldberg” (2013), “WHITE” (2015) and “Hans Hofmann: Works on Paper” (2017) while simultaneously strengthening the museum’s traveling exhibition program. She was also responsible for growing the museum’s permanent holdings. Polednik additionally introduced the museum’s Project Atrium series, which featured site-specific commissions by emerging and mid-career artists, which won a two-year grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Under Polednik’s leadership, MOCA Jacksonville’s attendance has grown more than 70 percent, and has seen a 75 percent increase in philanthropic income as well as a 40 percent budgetary growth.
Prior to joining MOCA Jacksonville, Polednik had worked as chief curator at the Monterey Museum of Art in California and as an assistant curator at the Whitney Museum in New York. She holds a doctorate in art history from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, and has curated shows and contributed catalogue essays for institutions including the Museum of Modern Art. Another fun fact: Polednik is a fluent speaker of Slovak, Polish, Czech, Spanish, French, and German.
Polednik will be joining the museum at a particularly exciting time, following its recent $34 million renovation, reinstallation, and expansion project, and its $28.8 million acquisition of the nearby O’Donnell Property.