Curator and Museum Trustee Isolde Brielmaier Has Been Named Deputy Director at the New Museum

The appointment comes at a critical time when museum leaders have been under fire for unfair management.

Isolde Brielmaier is the new deputy director of the New Museum. Photo courtesy of the New Museum.

The New Museum announced that Isolde Brielmaier has been appointed as the next deputy director, effective September 1. Brielmaier succeeds Karen Wong, who held the position for nine years after initially joining the museum in 2006.

Brielmaier has more than two decades of nonprofit and private sector experience, and specializes in exhibitions, scholarship, strategic planning, digital strategy, and social impact initiatives. She received her PhD in art history from Columbia University, and has served on the New Museum Board of Trustees since 2016.

In making the announcement, museum director Lisa Phillips noted: “Isolde possesses a truly unique combination of talents, affinities, and experience. These qualities coupled with her sound judgement and understanding of the many complexities facing our field, will serve the New Museum well in its next chapter.”

Brielmaier’s appointment comes at a critical time for the museum amid a tumultuous year and accusations of “toxic” leadership by museum employees. Last November, art collector Seth Stolbun announced his resignation from the board of directors at Rhizome, the digital art-focused organization affiliated with the museum.

The New Museum. Image courtesy of Peter Guthrie via Flickr

The New Museum. Image courtesy of Peter Guthrie via Flickr

Stolbun shared his resignation on Instagram and cited a New York Times expose in which employees alleged instances of verbal harassment, emotional abuse, and unethical business practices at the institution, in which a former registrar called the museum a “sweatshop,” while a former assistant said that Phillips runs the institution as “her private fiefdom.”

Brielmaier has extensive museum experience including her current role as curator at large at the International Center of Photography in New York, and previously, as chief curator of exhibitions at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, and curator at the Bronx Museum. She also served as curator at large for the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

For six years she was executive director and curator of arts, culture, and community for Westfield World Trade Center and has been a curatorial and strategic consultant for Prospect 3 in New Orleans as well as Amazon Web Services’s first AI-based artist commission set to premiere this fall. She is currently an assistant professor of critical studies in the Tisch School’s department of photography, imaging, and emerging media at New York University. She serves in an editorial capacity for Graydon Carter’s media venture Air Mail.

In the announcement of the new hire, Phillips praised Brielmaier as “a great team player with a powerful collaborative spirit and a deep interest and commitment to the New Museum.” She will oversee external affairs, marketing and communications, and NEW INC. (which announced its own new director, Salome Asega, at the beginning of the month), as well as media partnerships, publications, and visitor experience, among other areas.

Wong is leaving at the end of August to co-found and lead GBA/Guilty by Association, a new for-profit venture focused on empowering underrepresented artists. She will remain a consultant for the museum.

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