After 16 years, Walker director Kathy Halbreich has decided to step down. She informed staff at a Walker-wide meeting on Monday that her sabbatical last fall allowed her time to reflect on her future, and the fruit of that reflection was the awareness that she’s got “one more chapter left” in her professional career. She’s certainly accomplished much during her years here, a fact acknowledged by the success of the $100 million capital campaign and building expansion, a 2005 Award for Curatorial Excellence by The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and inclusion in ArtReview‘s Power 100 list of the art world’s most influential figures.
She’s not sure what’s next, but decided to ponder that blank canvas with a bit of distance from the institution she began leading in 1991. Only the fourth director in the Walker’s history, Halbreich emphasized she’s not departing for another position, just to get spiritual and intellectual space to welcome her next opportunity.
The Walker board is conducting an international search for her replacement, but Halbreich has agreed to stay with us until November 1. Over the next seven months, a management team made up of chief curator Philippe Vergne, chief operating officer Dave Steglich, and development director Christopher Stevens will work with her to ensure continuity during this transition, she announced.
In one of the first articles on her departure, Carol Vogel assessed: “That the Walker is viewed as an adventurous institution, regularly organizing challenging exhibitions and artists’ performances, is in large part owed to Ms. Halbreich’s vision.” Staff, seemingly in agreement, gave a teary Halbreich a standing ovation as the meeting concluded.
Shortly after that meeting, word passed quickly to the press and across the blogosphere. Here’s a rundown of the coverage: