Block Museum names former Williams College Museum of Art head as new director

Cathaleen Qiao Chen

Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art named Lisa Corrin as the next Ellen Philip Katz director Oct. 19.

Corrin, who will succeed current director David Alan Robertson on Feb. 1, currently teaches at Williams College and serves as a traveling scholar at New York University and as a Clark Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass.

From 2005 to 2011, Corrin was the director for the Williams College Museum of Art. Suzanna Silitch, public relations coordinator for the Williams museum, said Corrin established a deep connection between the museum and the campus community – something Corrin said she plans to continue at NU.

“I hope to develop a program that would involve not just faculty and students but also art lovers from Evanston and beyond,” Corrin said.

Corrin also has international experience with both curatorial and administrative art, as she has worked for the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, the Serpentine Gallery in London and the Seattle Art Museum.

“I have relationships with museums and artists all over the world, and I want to call upon these connections at the Block,” Corrin said. “I want to place a global emphasis with a focus on contemporary art. I want to bring the world to Northwestern and Northwestern to the world.”

Corrin added she has plans to further involve the university with the museum, as she did for Williams College. She is also looking into developing public arts programs as well as intern opportunities for undergraduate students.

“I’m not yet familiar enough with the museum to think about the potential changes, but I am committed to connecting the museum to all fields of study,” Corrin said.

Particularly drawn to the university setting, Corrin said she plans to utilize NU’s research facility.

“This is a great opportunity to work for a museum that is nourished by such an impressive institution as well as the city of Chicago,” she said. “The university has great art programs. The art history, art theory and practice and film departments are all very remarkable. I hope to involve students and teachers of all departments for deep collaboration.”

Robertson, the current director, plans to stay connected with the University through a Kellogg program, said Dan Silverstein, a committee member and the manager of exhibition and facilities at the Block. The program would help train future art directors.

“We want to celebrate David’s accomplishments here. He has done a lot for the museum, but he is ready for his next challenges,” Silverstein said.

When Robertson announced his resignation earlier this year, the University formed a 10-member selection committee to fill his spot, said Silverstein, who served as a member. Silverstein said the committee saw great promise in Corrin during the selection process.

“Among the other candidates, Lisa really stood out,” Silverstein said. “We were impressed with her versatile experiences, especially her achievements within this sort of university environment.”

University President Morton Schapiro praised Corrin’s potential in an email.

“Lisa Corrin has the energy, experience and commitment to take our wonderful museum to the next level,” he wrote.

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