Olga Viso to leave the Walker

Brunilde Fioravanti
Novembre 15, 2017

The Walker and the Sculpture Garden are now a unified art destination instead of two adjacent entities.

Olga Viso, executive director of the Walker Arts Center for 10 years, will step down from her position at the end of the year after an announcement by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. In 2011, she raised the funds to secure thousands of props, sets, drops and costumes from the Merce Cunningham Dance Archive for the Walker's permanent collection, positioning the Walker as a research center for Cunningham's work.

Her time at the Walker also included the massive $75 million project that entailed remodeling the museum's entryway, restaurant, outside landscaping, and revamping the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, adding pieces that include Katharina Fritsch's giant blue rooster, Hahn/Cock. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Viso served as an advisor on a survey of post-revolution Cuban art, "Adios Utopia: Drams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950", that opened at the museum earlier this month.

"In addition, she championed experimental and underrepresented artists throughout her tenure, while bringing many noteworthy exhibitions to the Walker, such as Merce Cunningham: Common Time, International Pop, and groundbreaking exhibitions like Adios Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950, one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of Cuban art to be organized in the USA in decades and now on view". Viso addressed gaps in the Walker's historical holdings and brought greater diversity to the museum. Los Angeles artist Sam Durant intended the sculpture as a commentary on capital punishment.

Monica Nassif, the board's president, said in a statement, "We are grateful for Olga's leadership and celebrate her significant contributions to the Walker Art Center during the past 10 years". Sam Durant's sculpture Scaffold, a playground-like piece representing the largest mass execution (38 Dakota men) in USA history, drew protests from the community.

Viso led an eight-year effort to transform the Walker Art Center.

The team assembled to lead the museum during the search for a new executive director includes Chief Advancement Officer Christopher Stevens, CFO Mary Polta, Senior Curator Siri Engberg and Human Resources Director Rishi Donat.

"I think we very much regret the pain and suffering the work is causing in our local community", Viso said.

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