NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Kristy Edmunds, executive and artistic director University of California, Los Angeles Center for the Art of Performance has been appointed as the new museum director.
The Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) announced the appointment Thursday after a 10-month international search and a unanimous decision.
"We are thrilled to welcome Kristy to North Adams and MASS MoCA; Kristy brings an exceptional record of artistic vision, community engagement, and leadership to Mass MoCA," said Timur Galen, chair of the Mass MoCA Foundation Board of Trustees. "Among a deep and diverse pool of very strong candidates, Kristy, from the outset of the selection process, stood out as someone with interests, experience and aspirations that are deeply aligned with ours. From her role as a founding director, to the broad range of multidisciplinary projects she has undertaken and presented in different venues and environments around the world, to her evident care and commitment to artists, her staff, and colleagues, we are truly delighted that Kristy will be joining us to lead Mass MoCA into the future."
Edmunds comes to Mass MoCA from the University of California, Los Angeles Center for the Art of Performance Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA), where she has served as the Executive and Artistic Director since 2011.
Previously, she was the Artistic Director for the Melbourne International Arts Festival, served for several years as the Head of the School of Performing Arts and Deputy Dean at the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne, and was the founding Executive and Artistic Director of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) and the TBA Festival (Time Based Art) in Portland, Oregon. She also served as the inaugural Consulting Artistic Director for the Park Avenue Armory in New York.
Edmunds will begin her new position at Mass MoCA in October.
"I have been fascinated with Mass MoCA from the second I learned about it decades ago," said Edmunds. "What it took to make it possible is extraordinary. What it feels like to experience art in this place is unlike anywhere else. There's an aliveness charging through the campus itself that manages to honor the past while being in the vivid present, and I have never been there without feeling that I discovered something astonishing. A whole creative ecosystem exists in North Adams to realize the vision of artists—from inception to monumentally-scaled completion, and everything in between—while also enhancing the economic benefits to the community. It is a tremendous honor to be joining Mass MoCA and supporting this outstanding team of people who maintain a creative pipeline of possibility in one place."
Mass MoCA began its search in Fall 2020, following the announcement in August 2020 that Joe Thompson would step down as Director after 32 years.
The Board formed a search committee and hired Russell Reynold Reynolds Associates (RRA) to conduct the search process. Through the subsequent months, RRA reached out to more than 250 individuals, as both prospective candidates and sources for recommendations, which ultimately generated a pool of more than 40 candidates. Eleven of those were invited for first round interviews, leading to three finalist candidates who completed additional interviews and visits to Mass MoCA's campus.
The search committee was unanimous in its recommendation to the Board of Trustees that they hire Edmunds.
As the Executive and Artistic Director of CAP UCLA, Edmunds oversees more than 45 full time staff and an annual budget ranging between $8 and $10 million.
Born in Chelan, Wash., Edmunds has a Master of Arts in Theater with a Directing/Playwriting emphasis from Western Washington University, and a Bachelor of Science in Film and Television Production from Montana State University. In addition to her full-time work leading arts organizations in the U.S. and Australia, Edmunds has been an active, speaker, juror, panelist, creative advisor and consultant for projects and organizations around the world, including Converge 45, Opera Philadelphia, Oz Arts (Nashville, TN), and the Park Avenue Armory.
She is also the recipient of awards and honors for her contributions to the arts, including being named a Chevalier (Knight) de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France in 2016 and, in 2018, receiving the inaugural Berresford Prize from United States Artists (USA).
"Central to my experience at every organization has been the importance of recognizing, respecting, and elevating the staff and artists, along with the audiences," said Edmunds. "Art is not a solitary activity, it always requires support, whether it's an artist who needs assistance with basic materials, to those who physically install, organize or contextualize its presentation, to the people whose experience of those works is what helps give them their enduring value to culture. This nexus of elements is what attracted me to Mass MoCA, where for more than 20 years the creative practitioners who work there have supported the artists themselves in creating powerful and memorable visual and performing arts installations in one of the most extraordinary venues in the world. I am looking forward to building on this outstanding legacy."