on 19 Aug 2015 5:01 PM
  • Press
Kathryn Kanjo served as Museum’s Chief Curator from 2010-2015
August 19, 2015

San Diego, CA—Earlier this summer, Hugh M. Davies, The David C. Copley Director & CEO, named Kathryn Kanjo the Deputy Director, Art and Programs.

“Kathryn Kanjo is one of the leading curators in the country. This well-deserved promotion recognizes her many achievements at the Museum,” said Davies. “She’s an incredible asset to the Museum and her passion for art, community outreach, and the curatorial process is unmatched.”

Throughout her 25-year career, Kanjo has distinguished herself in the field by upholding standards of curatorial integrity alongside a respect for audience engagement. Her exhibitions and acquisitions are consistently innovative and relevant, yet grounded in a significant art historical framework that reflects her knowledge of contemporary art.  This promotion recognizes her contributions to the Museum’s administrative operations and future planning.

Early in her career, Kanjo served as MCASD’s Assistant Curator (1992-1994) and later Associate Curator (1994-1995). She returned to the Museum in 2010 to serve as the organization’s Chief Curator.

“It was a red letter day when the Museum attracted Kathryn back to San Diego,” said MCASD’s Board President Matthew Strauss, echoing Davies’ sentiment. “She has flourished during her tenure here and we are pleased to recognize her achievements with this promotion.”

Kanjo is a crucial part of MCASD’s transformative growth. In the last five years she has recruited exceptional talent to strengthen a diminished curatorial staff. She has conducted eight new hires in a department of 10, including additions such as Associate Curator Jill Dawsey, Education Curator Cris Scorza, and Registrar Tom Callas. Her leadership has benefited the Museum’s curatorial efforts. She’s 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 has refocused attention on the depth of the Museum’s permanent collection holdings. Under Kanjo’s direction, the Curatorial team has overseen the most active loan and acquisition schedule in the institution’s history.

Directorship is not new for Kanjo—she’s held the title for more than half of her career, first 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).

By prioritizing the collection strengths of the University Art Museum, particularly the Architecture and Design Collection, Kanjo secured major grants from the Henry Luce Fund, the Andy Warhol Foundation, The Getty Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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 featuring more than 70 site-specific installations by artists such as Christian Jankowski, Ann-Sofi Sidén, and Do Ho Suh, to name a few.

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.


Founded in 1941, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the preeminent contemporary visual arts institution in San Diego County. The Museum’s collection includes more than 4,000 works of art created since 1950. In addition to presenting exhibitions by international contemporary artists, the Museum serves thousands of children and adults annually at its varied education programs, and offers a rich program of film, performance, and lectures. 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. Dr. Hugh M. Davies is The David C. Copley Director and CEO at MCASD.

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


Leah Straub, Communications & Marketing Manager, 858 454 3541 x119, lstraub@mcasd.org

Patricia B. Dwyer, Communications Associate, 858 454 3541 x116, pdwyer@mcasd.org