The Queens Museum Has Recruited a Star Biennial Curator From Across the Pond to Be Its New Director

Sally Tallant takes the reins after her predecessor resigned in January.

Sally Tallant. Photo by Hugo Glendinning, courtesy of the Queens Museum.

Liverpool Biennial director Sally Tallant has been named the next director of the Queens Museum, the pioneering and progressive New York institution that saw the tumultuous departure of its previous leader less than a year ago. Tallant will begin her new role this spring. 

Tallant’s predecessor, Laura Raicovich, resigned in January after three years at the helm, citing political differences with the board. The board, meanwhile, claimed that Raicovich had improperly opposed hosting an event celebrating the founding of Israel and that she had failed to disclose her involvement with a “politically divisive” book that includes essays supporting the boycott of Israel. Raicovich denied any wrongdoing; a number of high-profile cultural leaders also came to her defense

Tallant, the incoming director, has overseen four editions of the Liverpool Biennial, the UK’s largest contemporary art festival, since her appointment in 2011, including the most recent edition that closed at the end of October. Titled “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” the exhibition was a timely summary of artists’ responses to the stratified social, political, and economic climate of today. The show included Istanbul-based artist Banu Cennetoğlu installed The List, a work detailing the deaths of 34,000 migrants and refugees in or on the borders of Europe since 1993, which was repeatedly vandalized

In her role as director of the Liverpool Biennial, Tallant successfully worked with local politicians, civic leaders, and multiple public and private organizations while maintaining a clear curatorial vision of her own, a skill set that impressed the Queens Museum board. At the same time, they noted, her year-round program of permanent and temporary commissions and exhibitions managed to be both locally sensitive and globally relevant, a difficult balance.

Mark J. Coleman, the Queens Museum’s board chairman, said in a statement that Tallant’s “unique combination of local and global experience in the arts world made her the superlative choice for leading the Queens Museum, and serving the borough’s distinctively international constituency.”

Prior to taking the reins in Liverpool, the British curator served as head of programs at London’s Serpentine Galleries for a decade. She is also the current vice president of the International Biennial Association.

“Amid the difficulties and stress points we see in the world today, institutions like the Queens Museum are key in terms of creating cultural spaces for people to engage with the urgent issues of our time,” Tallant said in a statement.

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