MMAA Staff

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Kristin Makholm, PhD
Executive Director


Kristin Makholm took over the helm of Executive Director at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in July 2009. A Milwaukee native, she comes to the museum as a respected curator, art historian, and teacher, having received her B.A. from Northwestern University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. She has held curatorial and research positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and The Saint Louis Art Museum, over time developing her specialty in the area of prints, drawings, and other works on paper. Her most recent museum post was as curator of prints and drawings at the Milwaukee Art Museum, where she organized exhibitions on Latin-American art, the prints of Roy Lichtenstein, nineteenth-century German prints and drawings, and the art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

In 2004 she became director of exhibitions and galleries at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), where she organized exhibitions, taught art history, and led two prominent regional arts fellowship programs, the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists and the Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists.  As adjunct faculty, Makholm taught courses ranging from Dada and Surrealism to History of Prints and Mapping Modernity.

Makholm spends her time charting the new direction and vision of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, developing new programs and partnerships, collections care and management, fundraising, and donor development.

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Christopher Atkins
Curator of Exhibitions and
Public Programs

Christopher Atkins is an experienced curator who served as coordinator of the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program at Minneapolis Institute of Art from 2009-2015. He lead MAEP through an important transition and reinvigorated the program with a fresh relevancy by championing ambitious exhibitions and site-specific projects. He has a well-established reputation of working with and supporting Minnesota's artists and presenting high-impact installations by nationally recognized artists. Atkins has served as an adjunct lecturer at the College of Visual Arts, Minneapolis College of Art & Design, and Macalester College where he taught courses on museum studies and contemporary art. He holds M.Res & M.A. degrees in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths College, University of London, Graduate Certificate of Museum Studies from Harvard University and B.A. History of Art from the College of Wooster.

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Samantha Grangaard
Volunteer and Visitor Services Coordinator


Samantha Grangaard moved to the Twin Cities in 2010 after graduating magna cum laude from University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Political Science. Always interested in museums and historical societies, she quickly found herself immersed in the Twin Cities’ arts and culture scene. This passion led her to Boston in 2013 where she received her Master’s in History from Northeastern University, focused on Public History and Interpretation. During this time she gained a wide array of experiences at institutions such as the Massachusetts Historical Society, MIT Museum, and the Old North Church while working in visitor services at the Concord Museum and Danforth Art Museum. There Grangaard honed her skills in communication and volunteer leadership which she applies in her current position of Volunteer and Visitor Services Coordinator.  She is charged with developing a strong core of volunteers that will help her create engaging programming while ensuring the highest level of visitor satisfaction.

Jaden Hansen
Director of Development 


Jaden Hansen is a Twin Cities native who has worked in the Minnesota arts and culture community for 12 + years. Originally a classical archaeologist, Jaden was first exposed to working with museum collections during his time spent working on archaeological excavations throughout the Mediterranean. He later worked for the Scott County Historical Society and then the Hennepin History Museum, where he was Executive Director for seven years. Jaden’s most recent post was at the Minnesota Opera where he ran the Institutional Giving program. He recently completed a book on artist Bettye Olson for Afton Press, and is active on several boards and committees including President of the Associates of the James Ford Bell Library and the Steering Committee for the American Alliance of Museums, LGBTQ Professional Network.

Jaden brings to MMAA a deep network and experience working in fundraising for museums, libraries, performing arts organizations, and publications. His passion for development comes from a strong belief in the power of the arts to transform lives and the necessity of accessibility for all audiences. He looks forward to providing the funding support necessary for MMAA’s creative team to pursue opportunities for innovation and to build capacity for significant future growth.  

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Jennifer Hensley
Director of Operations 


Within her career as a financial professional, Jenn Hensley has found art to be an intrinsic part of daily life. She comes to the MMAA from the Fort Collins (CO) Downtown Development Authority where she was Financial Coordinator and Creative Director. In working with local artists in Fort Collins, she found a lack of opportunities for emerging artists and created a downtown arts activation program.  Jenn also co-founded the Fort Collins Mural Project while also serving as treasurer in the Denver Art Museum’s CultureHaus organization. A native of Texas, she holds a Master’s degree in Public Accountancy from West Texas A&M University. 

Anna Lavanger
Administrative Assistant


Anna Lavanger moved back home to the Twin Cities in 2014 after completing her B.A. in Economics and Art and Art History at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.  Before joining the staff at MMAA she worked, interned and volunteered at a handful of nonprofit art organizations throughout the Twin Cities including the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Franconia Sculpture Park, and Art Buddies. Anna started at the MMAA as a Development Intern in June 2015 and moved into her current role as Administrative Assistant in February 2016. She is interested in the intersection between art and community, specifically how art can play a role in economic stimulation and community growth. In her role at the MMAA, she enjoys the well-rounded experience having a hand in a variety of things, from assisting the executive director to finance to donor communications.

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Sarah McClure
Development Assistant


Sarah McClure moved to the Twin Cities in 2012 after she received a B.A. in cultural anthropology with a focus on Africana studies and an M.A. in museum studies from New York University. Her M.A. thesis received honors and focused on museum consultation with community members. She came to MMAA with experience in conservation and collections management from her work in natural history and art museums in Idaho, New York City and Italy, and corporate philanthropy and social responsibility at her prior position with Aveda in Minneapolis. She is passionate about the arts and the vital role of museums as sites for learning and engagement.

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Mai Vang
Collections Manager


Mai Vang is a passionate museum enthusiast with a vast experience in collection care and curation, exhibit development, museum education, and grant writing. Mai holds a Master's of Science degree in Anthropology and Museum Studies Certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota. Most recently she completed a summer fundraising campaign for the Richfield Historical Society as Executive Director and Founded the Hmong Museum. Previously she was Curator at the Minnesota Discovery Center where she successfully completed a permanent exhibit renovation, drastically increased attendance through programming, and established professional excellence in collection.



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