The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation today announced Mariët Westermann as its next director and CEO. Westermann will have charge of the foundation and of the Guggenheim group of museums, including its flagship New York institution, its Venice and Bilbao outposts, and its forthcoming Abu Dhabi branch. She is the first woman to helm the group since the Manhattan museum was built in 1959. Westermann, who will move to New York, arrives to the position from her role as vice chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi, which she has held since 2019.
She replaces Richard Armstrong, the Guggenheim’s director offourteen years, whoannounced his retirementin the summer of 2022.RelatedRADCLIFFE BAILEY (1968–2023)DOCUMENTA 16 SELECTION COMMITTEE RESIGNS EN MASSE Westermann’s prior roles include those of executive vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; director of NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts; and associate director of research and academic programs at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. A historian of the art of the Netherlands, she holds a BA from Williams College as well as an MA and Ph.D. from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. TheNew York Timesnoted that Westermann’s history as a university leader makes her a comparatively outside-the-box choice for the role, though institutions including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the J.
Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles have hired top-level employees from the world of academia. Among the talents that are said to have earned her the role are her global management skills, her experience with governmental entities, and her ability to handle complex negotiations. “She has run a major operation in a foreign country,” Guggenheim chair J. Tomilson Hill told theTimes.“She’s got great credibility in the art world, and she will be able to attract and retain extraordinary curators and other talented professionals.” The Guggenheim has endured a fraught few years: Besides weathering the deleterious effects of the pandemic alongside institutions across the globe, it was rocked by allegations ofinstitutional racism; trod a rocky path tounionization; came under fire for its failure to remove the opioid-tainted Sackler name from its galleries, which itultimately did; and struggled with the construction of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which is slated to open in 2026 after being beset by numerous delays andaccusationsthat migrant laborers on the project were poorly paid..