The Wexner Center for the Arts announced Wednesday that Johanna Burton has been appointed as its next director. Burton previously served as the Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum in New York since 2013.
Beginning in March, Burton will step into the role succeeding Sherri Geldin, who has served as Wexner Center director for the past 25 years. For this position, Burton was chosen by a 16-person selection committee, and will oversee a 70-person staff and $12 million budget.
“Johanna is the perfect leader — intelligent, inquisitive, collaborative and ambitious,” Abigail Wexner, center trustee and co-chair of the 16-person selection committee, said in a press release. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that she will guide the arts center into the future, while building on the superb work of Sherri Geldin and the talented staff.”
Burton will lead all aspects of the Wexner’s array of multidisciplinary arts and education programs, including the artist residency programs that is considered one of the most expansive in the country, according to the news release.
“Johanna’s impressive track record of thriving simultaneously in the scholarly, artistic and educational communities will allow her to further and deepen the interdisciplinary and multilayered connections that distinguish the Wex,” Provost Bruce McPheron said in the release.
Burton, who holds graduate degrees from Princeton, New York and Stony Brook universities, said that she is looking forward to joining an institution that is dedicated “to pushing boundaries.”
“The Wexner Center is one of this country’s most venerable contemporary art institutions, noted for its trailblazing spirit, dedication to pushing boundaries, and engagement with leading and emerging artists alike to create new work,” Burton said. “I am excited to join the board and staff in thinking about how we best steward this incredible legacy and momentum to continue to create programs, exhibitions, publications, and communities of creatives that break ground and investigate the questions and challenges of our time.”
National and local artists like Mickalene Thomas, whose exhibit “I Can’t See You Without Me” is currently on residency at the Wexner Center, and Nayland Blake had nothing but praise for Burton’s appointment.
“I am thrilled that Johanna will be leading the Wex; she is a perfect fit,” Thomas said. “The Wex is a place where artists are valued, heard, supported and celebrated [and] Johanna shares this approach.”
Burton’s past curations at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Hammer Museum at UCLA have examined artists and movements that challenge conventions and shift the art field.
“Johanna is a brilliant choice to lead the Wex through its next chapter,” Geldin said. “I can’t imagine a more perfect successor; one to whom I am both elated and deeply gratified to pass the baton after 25 years.”