The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have announced the appointment of Blaffer Art Museum Director and Chief Curator Claudia Schmuckli as Curator-in-Charge, Contemporary Art and Programming. Schmuckli will begin her tenure on September 1, 2016.
Since 2009, Schmuckli has been Director and Chief Curator at Blaffer, where she joined the staff in 2004 as Director of Public Relations and Membership and was appointed to Curator in 2006. At Blaffer, Schmuckli has forged a reputation as a pivotal figure in the presentation of contemporary art. Her notable projects include: Analia Saban (2016), Slavs and Tatars: Mirrors for Princes (2016), Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler: Sound Speed Marker (2015), Candice Breitz: The Woods (2014), Tony Feher (2012), Gabriel Kuri: Nobody Needs to Know the price of your Saab (2010), Existed: Leonardo Drew (2009), Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Time and Space (2008), Amy Sillman: Suitors & Strangers (2007) and Urs Fischer: Mary Poppins (2006).
Schmuckli also oversaw the award-winning 2012 renovation of the museum by WORK Architecture Company (WORKac), which marked the most significant facility improvement in Blaffer’s 43-year history, improving gallery circulation while creating a new northside entrance with a glowing facade that boosted the museum’s visibility and visitor accessibility. In 2015, the museum received the largest gift in its history, a $1 million bequest from longtime benefactor Jane Dale Owen (1942-2014). Schmuckli has also played a key role in planning the University of Houston’s new College of the Arts, which is set to launch on Sept. 1.
“Given how far Claudia has advanced the stature of Blaffer Art Museum’s exhibitions and programming within the University of Houston, the greater Houston arts community, and the international art world over the past seven years, it’s not surprising that an institution of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s caliber came calling,” said Andrew Davis, acting dean of the College of the Arts. “We will miss her and the valuable role she has played in helping plan the new College, but we heartily congratulate her on this well-deserved appointment.”
Said Kristopher Stuart, chairman of the Blaffer Art Museum advisory board: “Her leadership of our successful 2012 capital campaign and Museum renovation, along with her outstanding exhibitions, publications, and new initiatives promoting cross-disciplinary collaborations, have elevated the Blaffer’s profile at UH and beyond. We thank Claudia for the vision she brought to the Blaffer, as well as her many contributions to the regional, national, and international cultural landscape, and wish her well in her new endeavor.”
“I am excited that Claudia will join our team of extraordinary curators to augment our contemporary collection, programming and outreach,” said Max Hollein, Director, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Widening our contemporary perspective is among several priorities for the Museums. With our broad and diverse collections and multiple platforms for programmatic exchange—from exterior courtyards and major galleries to theater spaces—the de Young and Legion of Honor offer a wide range of possibilities for a unique contemporary program in the Bay Area. Given Claudia’s long experience in a variety of museum environments and her pioneering expertise in the contemporary field, she is a perfect match for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.”
Prior to Blaffer, Schmuckli worked in New York as Assistant Curator at the Museum of Modern Art from 1999 through 2003 and as a Curatorial Assistant at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from 1997 through 1999. She holds a Master of Arts degree in art history from the Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany.
“I am thrilled to join Max Hollein and the excellent staff of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco at such a critical institutional juncture,” said Schmuckli. “The de Young and Legion of Honor are among the most renowned art institutions on the West Coast, with a long-standing reputation for showcasing art from the ancient to the contemporary. I look forward to building on that legacy, while implementing a new program of exhibitions and initiatives to activate the buildings and collections, shape the contemporary art discourse, and redefine the nature of public engagement throughout both museums.”
The University of Houston College of the Arts will conduct a national search for Schmuckli’s replacement.
Photo by dabfoto creative