Senior curator leaving IMA after 11-year stay

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The senior curator and chairwoman of the contemporary art department at the.Indianapolis Museum of Art is leaving after 11 years at the museum.

Lisa Freiman will become the first director at Virginia Commonwealth University's planned museum of contemporary art starting July 1, the museum announced Wednesday.

VCU's Institute of Contemporary Art is expected to open in 2015. Besides her duties as director, Freiman will be a professor in VCU's School of the Arts. The new VCU museum will be a combination exhibition and performance space. It will also feature spaces for visual art, theater, music, dance and film.

Freiman directed the opening of the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres in June 2010 and is credited with transforming the experience of contemporary art in Indianapolis.


  • Out of our league?
    Perhaps the IMA board is really to blame! They agreed to hire Charles. They can't seemingly find donors among themselves, or bring in new blood that will support the museums operating budget with an expanded museum and money to provide curators with something to do (ie buy art). The headlines of disarray at the museum and mass firings are hurting the reputation of the museum for some time to come. If people on the board had misgivings, perhaps they shpuld have more forcefully opposed efforts that they have seemingly been unable to fund, like expansion and the costs it has created!
  • Stand up
    When the new director fires many senior staff and then much of the remaining senior staff start marching out the door behind them, this is a clear and unquestionable sign that Charles is a terrible leader. Any competent director and board would have made decisions that would have indicated that they have an actual strategy and vision for where the institution is going rather than just watching the bottom line. So far the only strategy I've heard out of the IMA is that they are going to open some Matisse show in the fall that is going to double attendance and add money back to the endowment. My friend at the IMA said that nearly everyone of talent is looking for a job because the place is stopping to be an art museum, and becoming a children's museum. And good luck to the IMA in replacing any of these positions with decent professionals after this fiasco.
    • Oh Well
      This news doesn't bother me. It will be nice to get new blood into the contemporary art part of IMA. I never made much of a connection with what she presented and promoted. When she didn't go to Dallas with Maxwell I figured her time here was limited. In the talks of hers that I attended she never seemed to be happy about being at a museum in Indianapolis.
    • You are all so intelligent...
      Could any of you take your head out of the clouds for a few mins and stop your utter hatred for the director of the IMA, or the board? It's not Charles, you would complain regardless of who was in that role having to make these decisions. People get let go all everyday from all different companies, people decide to take on other jobs all the time...why is this such a big deal and huge conspiracy to you? Oh wait...it's bc you have nothing better to do...get a life! The IMA is an amazing place and making tough, but necessary decisions to be around long term. How about this simple comment...thanks for your work at the IMA Lisa, good luck in your new role.
      • But...
        you guys aren't being fair. You do have to give Charles and the IMA board credit for being successful thus far with one of their goals: cost cutting. laying off 11% of the staff was a good start but now they also have back the salaries and benefits of 3 senior level curators. That's got to be a good chunk of change. I'm sure none of this will have any impact at all in the ability to service the community. Congrats to Charles and the Board! (cue "Mission Accomplished" banner)
      • Total Collapse
        What a disappointment for Lisa to leave the museum! Her husband, Ed, has been one of the best teachers at North Central; another big loss for Indy. It seems like she could have stayed at the IMA if they would have wanted her. I heard from a friend of a board member that two other senior curators resigned this week. Three senior curators leaving the IMA in one week is big deal! It's almost like we are losing our world class art museum over night while the new director travels Europe and complains that he has to live in a mansion that the museum provides for him. Can we ship him back to Kentucky?
      • Is it true?
        Are the other senior curators leaving, too? That may say something about the leadership at the IMA even if Freiman's departure doesn't necessarily. I have a feeling that there is more to the story than Freiman job hunting after Venice was over given all the other stuff that has gone on out there in the last few months.
      • Please..
        This has nothing to do with Charles Venable. Lisa has been looking for a new job since the Biennale opened.
        • Venable
          It seems to me that Charles Venable has been a disaster for the IMA...
        • 100 Acres
          I think the 100 Acres portion of the IMA was a wonderful addition to the museum and to the city as a whole. It fits right in with who we are as a city yet also elevates us to who we want to be all at the same time. Congrats on the new position Ms Freiman and thank you for your service to Indianapolis.
        • IMA
          Perhaps the IMA could work the word "sports' into its title, thereby getting all kinds of taxpayer welfare. It works for others; why not the IMA?
        • Not the only one!!
          Rumor has it that Lisa Freiman is not the only curator who has resigned this week. There are two others!! Looks like the IMA continues to be a big mess. I hope the board is asking questions, but undoubtedly they still have their heads in the sand. The IMA has been mismanaged for about ten years, and this week's mass curatorial exodus indicates the poor health of this institution. Wake up board!

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