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Carnegie Museum of Art will welcome chief curator from Columbus

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 6:58 p.m.
Catherine Evans will start in February as the Carnegie Museum of Art's chief curator.

Catherine Evans couldn't say no to the Carnegie Museum of Art and an opportunity to help mold the next era at one of the country's oldest collections of contemporary art.

“In the art world, the Carnegie Museum has a rich and well-deserved reputation,” said Evans, who starts in February as chief curator of the world-class Oakland institution.

Unlike previous curators, Evans will oversee all departments instead of one area or collection. She will work with museum director Lynn Zelevansky and museum staff on professional practices related to the collection, including acquisitions and management strategies, as well as developing the exhibition program.

“We are at a crossroads at Carnegie Museum of Art, as we strive to make ourselves more visible locally and globally, and take a leadership role in redefining museums for the next century,” said Zelevansky, the museum's Henry J. Heinz II director. “Catherine will be a great asset to the museum and the city in this effort.”

Evans will come from the Columbus Museum of Art in the Ohio capital.

Among the challenges Evans said she and the museum have identified will be modernizing the experience and making it relevant to everyone.

“We need to reimagine some ways museums can behave in the 21st century,” Evans said. “It's a model that really hasn't changed since the 19th century.”

Historically, museums have had the “pleasure and problem of being on the elitist side of the cultural experience,” Evans said.

Many museums must find ways to become more like visitors centers that are welcome and open to all, she said.

Evans has worked at the Columbus museum since 1996, where she served as photography and chief curator. In 2001, she lead the museum's acquisition of a major collection from the Photo League, a New York City-based group of professional and amateur photographers who used their art to affect social change from 1936 to 1951.

Prior to Columbus, Evans served as an assistant curator in the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. She graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.

“She is committed to making the museum welcoming and the art accessible to all,” said Zelevansky, noting Evans' scholarly and museum experience as well as her background with cross-departmental programming involving technology and viewer participation. “These goals, activities and ideas are central to our current strategic plan. I'm delighted to have her on board.”

The museum evolved from the inception of collecting “the old masters of tomorrow” for the first Carnegie International in 1896. The 2013 Carnegie International opened in October and runs through March.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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