Keeper of the Plans

Wichita Art Museum conducting national search for new curator

Wichita Art Museum
Wichita Art Museum

The Wichita Art Museum is in the midst of a national search for a new curator, following Lisa Volpe’s departure late last year.

Patricia McDonnell, director of the museum, said the museum has received about 15 applications for the job.

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“I’m heartened by what we’re seeing,” she said. “It’s our job to go find the next great curator for Wichita.”

Volpe, who served as the Wichita Art Museum’s curator for a little over three years, accepted a job as associate curator of photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, around Thanksgiving, McDonnell said.

Volpe led a shift at the museum, which rarely, if ever, exhibited photography prior to her taking over the curator position.

McDonnell praised Volpe’s work in assembling both photography exhibitions like “Jesse Alexander: The Golden Age of Motorsport” and bringing in shows like “Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott.”

Volpe also developed the museum’s current exhibition, “386,552: Art for Wichita.”

“She reinstalled our permanent collection, and she did so magnificently,” McDonnell said. “She really, really honed in on artists who live in Wichita and found very creative ways to honor them and (let them) have a presence in the life of the museum, the ‘Art (for) Wichita’ exhibition being just one among many ways that that happened.”

McDonnell said she hopes to have a new curator hired by the summer.

“National searches ... are a time-consuming process,” she said. “We’re going to bring in, fly in a couple candidates, then we have to offer the job. Odds are that’s not someone we’re going to find currently living in Wichita. Therefore, someone needs to move and that could take a bit.”