MCA San Diego Appoints Kathryn Kanjo Director

She'll oversee a long-planned expansion.

Kathryn Kanjo. Photo by Stacy Keck, courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Kathryn Kanjo. Photo by Stacy Keck, courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has chosen Kathryn Kanjo, currently deputy director at the museum, to succeed longtime head Hugh M. Davies. Kanjo first began working for the museum 25 years ago, joining as an assistant curator in 1992 and serving as associate curator (1992–94) and chief curator (2010–15) before assuming her current post. She’ll begin her new job in October.

“Of all the curators I’ve worked with over the years, she is at the top in terms of possessing the skill set to be a director,” said Davies, who is ending an epic term of 33 years as director, in a press release. “She has an extraordinary eye for art and possesses the charisma needed to engage patrons and serve as an effective leader.”

Kanjo will oversee a long-planned expansion by New York architect Annabelle Selldorf, with Davies assisting as campaign and expansion director until his 2018 retirement.

“I am coming in at a time in which we are planning for growth, so I think the continuity will be to my advantage,” Kanjo told the Los Angeles Times.

As deputy director, Kanjo oversaw eight new hires in a curatorial department of ten, and installed shows by artists including Spencer Finch, Isaac Julien, and Ai Weiwei.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla.

After her first stint in San Diego, Kanjo headed to the Portland Art Museum, where she stayed until 1999 as curator of contemporary art. There, she initiated the acquisition of works by Robert Irwin, Claes Oldenburg, Diana Thater, and other artists.

Kanjo was executive director of Artpace San Antonio, in Texas, from 2000 to 2006, and directed the University of California, Santa Barbara art museum from 2006 to 2010. At Artpace, she oversaw site-specific installations by artists including Christian Jankowski, Ann-Sofi Sidén, and Do Ho Suh.

Founded in 1941, the MCA San Diego has a collection of more than 4,700 works of art. The museum has also named Paul Jacobs, executive chairman and former CEO at the multinational semiconductor maker Qualcomm, as president of the board.


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