The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal, announced that Philippe Vergne will be its next director, beginning in April. He succeeds João Ribas, who resigned as artistic director in September amid controversy surrounding a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition.
Vergne, no stranger to controversy himself, was most recently director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He stepped down from that post last May after just over four years—and ahead of the end of his five-year contract—in the wake of his firing of the museum’s chief curator, Helen Molesworth, a few months earlier. Prior to leading L.A. MOCA, Vergne served as director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York, deputy director and chief curator of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the first director of Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseille, France.
The museum’s board was advised in its international search by a who’s who of museum directors from across the world: Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern in London; Suzanne Cotter, director of the MUDAM in Luxembourg; Jochen Volz, director of the Pinacoteca of the State of Sao Paulo; Laurent Le Bon, president of the Picasso National Museum in Paris; and Vicente Todoli, artistic director of the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca in Milan. A press release noted that the board and its advisers were unanimous in their decision to appoint Vergne to the top job.
“Philippe Vergne brings to Serralves an extraordinary expertise in contemporary art and culture, as well as in museum management,” Serralves board president Ana Pinho said in a statement. “A distinguished curator, Vergne will bring a solid and inspiring artistic vision not just to the Museum and the Collection but also to the notable assets of the Serralves Foundation, including its historic park. With a remarkable international recognition among artists, art professionals and patrons, the appointment of Philippe Vergne opens a new and significant chapter for Serralves at an exciting time of its 30th anniversary year.”