As a supporter of the M, I’m reaching out to you today to share some important leadership information about the museum. On Tuesday, I released Kristin Makholm from her position as Executive Director after serving for more than a decade. An Interim Director will be appointed in the next few days and the Board will soon begin a national search for a permanent Executive Director. I want to assure you that the museum will continue to move forward and flourish—presenting a full line-up of community-facing programs this fall.
Kristin’s contributions to the museum are notable. Beginning in 2009, she took the reins of a museum without a permanent home and took the museum into the community with traveling exhibitions and lectures, broadening awareness of the M. When the board identified the Historic Pioneer Endicott Building as a potential permanent home, Kristin played a key role in the capital campaign to make the new facility a reality. The M opened a small temporary gallery called the Project Space in 2013 and further expanded into the 18,700-square-foot first phase of the new facility in December 2019, which includes a center for creativity, galleries, and public spaces.
In recent years, the M has earned a reputation as an experimental, open, and collaborative institution by supporting partner-led, community-centered projects, hosting cooperatively curated exhibitions with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) organizations and leaders. Exhibits have included: History is Not Here: Art and the Arab Imaginary, co-hosted with the Arab cultural organization Mizna; Choice of Weapons, Honor and Dignity: The Visions of Gordon Parks and Jamel Shabazz, co-curated by Robin Hickman-Winfield and SoulTouch Productions.
I wholeheartedly believe the future is bright for the M—but not without challenges. Through tough economic times and cultural turmoil, our professional staff and Board of Trustees provide a strong foundation as we continue to build for the future. While evaluating the timing of Phase 2 construction, we continue to present exhibitions and programs while addressing issues of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, following our mission to inspire people to discover themselves and their communities through American art.
Over this next year, the M has planned a collection of programs and community convenings. With these community-facing programs, the M will present: 1.5: Southeast Asian Diaspora Remix, co-hosted with the SEAD (Southeast Asian Diaspora) Project mounted in the museum windows and at offsite public locations. It is also planning a collaborative project with the African American Interpretive Center later this year. Currently, visitors to downtown St. Paul can view Gordon Parks: A Homecoming, and an installation by Minneapolis artist Piotr Szyhalski called COVID-19: Labor Camp Report in the museum’s windows.
We will reach out again, shortly, to give you additional information about upcoming installations and programming and let you know how you can support these efforts. The museum community is made up of the people who support it and for this commitment, we are grateful.