Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 10:31 am

San Diego, CA—The Museumof Contemporary Art San Diego’s (MCASD) Board of Trustees voted today to appoint Kathryn Kanjo as The David C. Copley Director and CEO, effective October 18, 2016, the Museum’s 75th anniversary. The Board also voted to install Dr. Paul Jacobs as the next Board President, succeeding current President Matthew Strauss. Jacobs is the Executive Chairman and former CEO of QUALCOMM, Inc.

“It’s a new era for the Museum,” said MCASD’s 33-year director Dr. Hugh M. Davies. “I see Kathryn and Paul taking MCASD to new heights.” When Kanjo takes her new post in October, Davies will continue working for the Museum as the Campaign and Expansion Director, raising funds to support the Museum’s long planned expansion and overseeing the associated architectural design and building process, before retiring at the end of 2018.

Kanjo has a 25-year history with the Museum and currently serves as Deputy Director, Art and Programs. Early in her career she joined MCASD as Assistant Curator (1992-1994) and later Associate Curator (1994-1995). Kanjo returned for the post of Chief Curator in 2010, and was promoted to Deputy Director, Art and Programs in 2015.

“Kathryn is absolutely the right choice for this position,” said Davies. “Of all the curators I’ve worked with over the years, she is at the top in terms of possessing the skill set to be a Director. She has an extraordinary eye for art and possesses the charisma needed to engage patrons and serve as an effective leader. Her people skills and fundraising abilities are unmatched and I know she’ll continue to be an incredible asset to the Museum.”

In early 2015, MCASD’s Board President Matthew Strauss formed an ad hoc succession committee to explore options for replacing Davies, whose step back from his current position had been planned for some time. The committee met with three consultants who advised on whether or not they should launch a national search: Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery; Jack Lane, Director Emeritus at the Dallas Museum of Art; and John Walsh, Director Emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

All three advised the same thing: hire from within.

“They had a candidate in front of them with a deep history with the Museum, strong qualifications, and in the top tier of her field,” said Dr. Walsh. “It was a progressive move to hire from within.”

Dr. Lane cited continuity as a crucial factor given the Museum’s current trajectory. “The Museum is at a critical moment and continuity in leadership is of the utmost importance as the Board of Trustees considers expanding the Museum’s physical space. With a new building in place, there will likely be new and unforeseen challenges arising for the director and they may well be best met by an individual with a deep understanding of the museum, which Kathryn Kanjo possesses in abundance.” He recommended the decision be made as early in the expansion planning process as possible.

“She’s one of the best in the next generation of museum directors,” said Jock Reynolds. “The Museum is incredibly fortunate to have her.”

Kanjo has served a critical role in MCASD’s growth since she rejoined the institution in 2010 as Chief Curator. She recruited exceptional talent to strengthen a diminished curatorial staff, including eight new hires in a department of 10. These additions include Associate Curator Jill Dawsey, Education Curator Cris Scorza, and Registrar Tom Callas. She mounted several one-person projects by notable mid-career artists such as Spencer Finch, Isaac Julien, Ai Weiwei, Liza Lou, and James Drake, even as she developed ambitious surveys of established artists such as John Valadez and Jack Whitten.

Presenting a series of collection exhibitions, at both the La Jolla and Downtown San Diego locations, she refocused attention on the depth of the Museum’s permanent collection holdings. Under her direction, the Curatorial team has overseen the most active loan and acquisition schedule in the institution’s history.

Prior to her 2010 appointment at MCASD, Kanjo served as Executive Director of Artpace San Antonio (2000-2006), and later as Director of the University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2006-2010). During her seven-year stint as Executive Director of Artpace San Antonio, the organization experienced unprecedented growth, transitioning from a private operating foundation to an IRS-classified public charity and featured more than 70 site-specific installations by artists such as Christian Jankowski, Ann-Sofi Sidén, and Do Ho Suh, to name a few. At the University Art Museum, Kanjo was able to secure major grants from the Henry Luce Fund, the Andy Warhol Foundation, The Getty Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Prior to joining Artpace, Kanjo served as the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Portland Art Museum (1996-1999) where she managed a lively contemporary art program within the city’s general museum. She initiated the acquisition of the estate of critic Clement Greenberg and acquired works by such artists as Robert Irwin, Claes Oldenburg, David Salle, and Diana Thater, among others.

An accomplished scholar and author of numerous publications, Kanjo received her M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Southern California and her B.A. in Art History and English Literature from the University of Redlands. Kanjo lives in San Diego with her husband, David Jurist, and their two children.

For interviews and high-resolution images of Kathryn Kanjo, contact Communications Associate Patricia B. Dwyer or Communications and Marketing Manager Leah Straub.

Kathryn Kanjo
Kathryn Kanjo received her M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and her B.A. in Art History and English Literature from the University of Redlands. Her first curatorial appointment was at MCASD where she served as Assistant and then Associate Curator from 1992 to 1995 and worked on projects including La Frontera/The Border: Art About the Mexico/United States Border Experience (1993), inSITE94: Carlos Aguirre, Anya Gallaccio, Silvia Gruner, Yukinori Yanagi (1994) and Nancy Rubins: Airplane Parts and Building, A Large Growth for San Diego (1995). She returned to MCASD in 2010 as Chief Curator, organizing exhibitions including Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting, among others. In 2015 she was promoted to Deputy Director, Art and Programs.

Prior to her return to MCASD, Kanjo was Director of the University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara for four years. From 2000–2006, Kanjo was the Executive Director of Artpace San Antonio where she directed more than 70 site-specific installations with artists such as Edgar Arceneaux, Maurizio Cattelan, and Christian Jankowski. Earlier, she was Curator of Contemporary Art at Portland Art Museum.  

Dr. Paul E. Jacobs
Dr. Paul E. Jacobs is Executive Chairman, and the former CEO, of QUALCOMM Incorporated, San Diego’s largest company based on market capitalization.  He holds a doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley. In addition to the MCASD Board he is Chairman of the Advisory Board of the UC Berkeley College of Engineering and is Vice Chairman and Co-Owner of the Sacramento Kings basketball team. He is an ardent collector of contemporary art and has been an MCASD Trustee since 2000. He served as Co-Chair of the Architectural Selection Committee, and co-founded MCASD’s membership group for young professionals in 1998.

Founded in 1941, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the preeminent contemporary visual arts institution in San Diego County. In October of 2016, the Museum will celebrate 75 years in the La Jolla community. The Museum’s collection includes more than 4,700 works of art created since 1950. In addition to presenting exhibitions by international contemporary artists, the Museum serves thousands of children and adults annually through its varied education programs. MCASD is a private, nonprofit organization, with 501c3 tax-exempt status; it is supported by generous contributions and grants from MCASD Members and other individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies.

Institutional support for MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.