Art News

MCA Denver Hires Curator Nora Burnett Abrams as New Director

Nora Burnett Abrams has been appointed as the new head of MCA Denver.
Nora Burnett Abrams has been appointed as the new head of MCA Denver. From the Hip Photo
After Adam Lerner, longtime head of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, announced earlier this summer that he would be stepping down, the museum launched a nationwide search for his replacement. But today, August 20, the MCA announced that his successor would be one of its own: curator Nora Burnett Abrams.

The appointment signals MCA's intention to continue its current trajectory. Abrams served under Lerner for nearly a decade, and the board has attributed much of the museum's 200 percent attendance growth in recent years to her work.

“After an extensive international search, the Board was unanimous in selecting Nora,” explained MCA board director Mike Fries in a statement. “Over the last ten years, she has been instrumental in bringing MCA Denver to where it stands today as one of the most important cultural institutions in Colorado. Her distinct curatorial approach has proven time and again her ability to bring adventurous and compelling stories to light and to uncover previously unexamined facets of artists and their work. Nora’s unique appreciation for the special role MCA plays in the creative hearts and minds of Denverites and the next generation of museumgoers makes her the ideal candidate. We can’t wait to see where her visionary leadership takes us next.”

At 41, Abrams will be one of the youngest heads of any museum in the country. She began her curatorial career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and has been at the helm of more than thirty exhibits at the MCA from artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Senga Nengudi, Adrian Ghenie, Ryan McGinley and Tara Donovan.

Abrams's newest exhibition, Francesca Woodman: Portrait of a Reputation, opens on September 20 and runs through April 5, 2020. She begins the new job Tuesday, August 20.

"I am inspired daily by my colleagues and the creative energy in Denver," she said in a statement. "It is especially meaningful to succeed Adam Lerner, who always encouraged me to stretch myself as a curator, conceive exhibitions that disrupt and break from convention and serve as a model for innovative thinking.”
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris