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AGO Appoints Elizabeth Smith As New Executive Director of Curatorial Affairs

(Toronto: June 22, 2010) – After a five-month global search, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has hired Elizabeth Smith as its new Executive Director of Curatorial Affairs.

Formerly the Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, Smith will oversee the Gallery’s ambitious exhibition program and collection growth, while providing senior leadership in the development of presentation strategies and production of scholarly research. She also will establish international partnerships to galvanize the AGO’s profile and produce varied art and business opportunities. Smith joins the AGO in this new capacity on September 14, 2010.

“Elizabeth is a seasoned and accomplished leader in the museum world with 25 years experience,” explained Director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum. “She joins the Gallery at a pivotal time in our history. Now that we have successfully launched the transformed AGO, she will lead our curatorial team to shape future programming, leverage the AGO brand and collection internationally and amplify audience engagement.”

Smith is an art historian, museum professional, author, and educator specializing in visual art and architecture from the mid-20th century to the present. Educated in Art History at Columbia University, she has taught at the University of Southern California and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Prior to her 10 years at MCA, Smith held various curatorial positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), for 16 years.

“We are pleased to have Elizabeth join the team,” said Jay Smith, member of the Board of Trustees and chair of the AGO’s contemporary curatorial committee. “The breadth of her experience and leadership in institutional programming will position the Gallery to shine on the world stage, while ensuring our strategic goals.”

During her tenure at MCA, Smith curated many acclaimed exhibitions, such as Jenny Holzer: PROTECT PROTECT (2008-09); Lee Bontecou: A Retrospective (2004); Kerry James Marshall, One True Thing: Meditations on Black Aesthetics (2003-04); and several major reinstallations of the MCA’s collection, including Life Death Love Hate Pleasure Pain (2002).

While at MOCA, her exhibitions included At the End of the Century: One Hundred Years of Architecture (1998); Cindy Sherman: Retrospective (1997-98); Urban Revisions: Current Projects for the Public Realm (1994); and Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses (1989-90).

“Having spent much of my career in museums of contemporary art, I am extremely excited to join an institution with the curatorial range and breadth of the AGO,” said Smith. “I look forward to working closely with the talented staff to develop compelling exhibitions and to further the growth of the collection in a setting as dynamic and impressive as the redesigned AGO.”

In addition to contributing essays to numerous exhibition catalogues, Smith has authored Case Study Houses: The Complete CSH Program, 1945-66 (Taschen Verlag, 2002) and Techno Architecture (Thames & Hudson, 2000).

She has served on panels, juries and advisory boards, including USA Artists Awards, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Presidential Design Awards, Independent Curators International, New York, and the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago. Smith is currently a trustee of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

Selected honours and awards include 2005/06 Curatorial Research Fellowship, The Getty Foundation; 2004 Person of the Year in the Arts, the Chicago Tribune; and two awards from the American section, International Association of Art Critics: 2001 Best Architecture or Design Exhibition of the Year for The Architecture of R.M. Schindler and 2004 Best Monographic Exhibition Nationally for Lee Bontecou: A Retrospective.

About the AGO

With a permanent collection of more than 79,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. In 2008, with a stunning new design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the AGO opened its doors to the public amid international acclaim. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase made of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block along the Gallery’s façade; and the feature staircase, spiralling up through the roof of Walker Court and into the new contemporary galleries above. From the extensive Group of Seven collection to the dramatic new African art gallery; from David Altmejd's monumental installation The Index to Peter Paul Rubens' masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, a highlight of the celebrated Thomson Collection, there is truly something for everyone at the AGO.

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For more images and more information contact:
Antonietta Mirabelli, 416-979-6660 ext. 454, antonietta_mirabelli@ago.net

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