One of the most high-profile empty museum director seats in the United States has now been filled, with the Minneapolis Institute of Art hiring Katherine Crawford Luber as its new leader. She will take the place of Kaywin Feldman, who stepped down from the top job earlier this year to become director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Luber comes from the San Antonio Museum of Art, where she has been director since 2011, and will start at the MIA (which it styles as Mia) on January 2, 2020. She’s the 12th director of the museum, which dates back to 1883, and the second woman to hold the position.
The soon-to-be-Minnesotan has an intriguing CV. Along with about a decade as curator of northern Renaissance and Baroque paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a stretch as a research associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, she has also been an entrepreneur. In the mid-2000s she started a spice company called the Seasoned Palate that she later sold. She holds both a Ph.D. in art history from Bryn Mawr and an M.B.A. from Johns Hopkins.
“During my tenure as director of the San Antonio Museum of Art, we saw our museum attendance grow substantially as we increased our engagement with and outreach to communities with different motivations, interests, and needs,” Luber said in a statement. “I am now looking forward to getting to know the diverse communities of the Twin Cities.”
Luber inherits an institution that saw its attendance double during Feldman’s 11-year tenure, to more than 700,000 a year, but also one where there are “daunting challenges,” as the museum’s chairman, David Wilson, put it in an interview with the local Star Tribune, citing “crumbling parking infrastructure and a huge lack of art storage.” Last year, the MIA adopted a new master plan that will seek to remedy those issues.
The appointment of Luber comes amid a period of transition at Minneapolis’s leading art museums. Longtime New Yorker Mary Ceruti was picked last November as the new director of the Walker Art Center, and Lyndel King is slated to leave the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota in 2020, after 40 years at its helm.