Dia Art Foundation Taps Tate’s Jessica Morgan for Director Job

Jessica Morgan and John Baldessari.
Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

New York’s Dia Art Foundation has selected Jessica Morgan, currently the curator of international art at London’s Tate Modern, to be its new director, the New York Times reports. Morgan was previously the chief curator at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art and a curator at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, before returning to her native Britain in 2002 to take a job as contemporary art curator at Tate. She has held her current position since 2010.

At Dia, she’ll be taking on a tough job. The institution has offices in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, though its world-class collection of Minimalist and Conceptual art and special exhibition program are housed in its massive upstate facility Dia:Beacon. Though plans have been afoot for years for Dia to construct a new museum building near its former home on West 22nd Street, those were left stalled when the foundation’s previous director, Philippe Vergne, split for Los Angeles earlier this year to take over its Museum of Contemporary Art.

As the Times‘s Randy Kennedy points out, one of Morgan’s major challenges in reasserting Dia’s presence in Manhattan will involve differentiating the institution from the likes of the New Museum and the Whitney, which is about to relocate to a site very near Dia’s planned future building (see “New Whitney Building, Like Noah’s Ark, Could Ferry All of American Art to Safety“).

In light of the city’s saturated contemporary art landscape, Morgan says it will be “all the more vital that Dia retain its significance in terms of its relationship to living artists.” She adds: “But it has to be a relationship that’s relevant to the current moment…It can’t rest on a notion of its past.”

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