Brandeis University has named Gannit Ankori as the Henry and Lois Foster Director and Chief Curator of the Rose Art Museum, effective January 1, 2021. Ankori, a professor of art history and theory in the departments of Fine Arts and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University, has been serving as interim director at the Rose since July 2020.
A Jerusalem native and citizen of the world, Ankori is a critically acclaimed author, curator, and educator who brings an in-depth knowledge of the Rose Art Museum’s unique role as a world-class museum within a university setting. During a time of uncertainty due to COVID-19, her leadership and expertise have proven invaluable to the museum.
“I’m pleased that Gannit will be leading the Rose at such a critical time when so many arts and culture institutions are struggling to remain open and relevant,” said Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz. “Her deep devotion to the museum, scholarly acumen, curatorial expertise, and proven capacity to lead and inspire makes her the ideal choice. Brandeis is committed to the creative arts and its stellar museum, and the university looks forward to joining Gannit in supporting, uplifting, and celebrating the Rose and its future initiatives.”
Founded in 1961, the Rose Art Museum is among the nation’s premier university museums dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Upholding Brandeis University’s mission to unite creative expression with academic inquiry, the Rose ensures its unparalleled collection is an integral part of the university’s educational experience. The museum also stands as an important civic institution, providing programs of relevance to Waltham, Greater Boston, and beyond. Still, Ankori believes the Rose can do more to address contemporary issues.
“Since stepping into my role, I have been working with the Rose team to reimagine the museum as a welcoming and vibrant nexus for art, communities, and justice,” Ankori said. “Pursuing an uncharted path, we are transforming the Rose into an antiracist, anticolonial institution. We are exploring new inclusive and more equitable ways of being a cutting-edge and inspiring museum that harnesses the power of art and ideas to create social change,” Ankori said.
Ankori will lead all artistic and programming initiatives at the Rose as well as the museum’s management. With a broad mandate to further integrate the Rose into Brandeis’s academic and cultural life, she will provide curatorial leadership regarding the growth, care, development, and display of the museum’s permanent collection and advance national and international partnerships and scholarship.
“Critical review and research devoted to this remarkable collection uncover great strengths, but also blind spots. Building on prior Rose directors and curators’ work, I am seeking to thoughtfully diversify and enhance our permanent collection, with focus on acquiring work by women, gender non-conforming, BIPOC, international and underrepresented artists.”
“The Rose Board of Advisors is excited and delighted that Gannit will be the new director of the Rose Art Museum,” said Board Chair Liz Krupp. “Her brilliance, empathy, and enthusiasm make Gannit the perfect choice to lead the museum into the future. She has already hit the ground running, redefining the museum’s vision for the future, and prioritizing the need for diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.”
Prior to her appointment as the Rose’s Director and Chief Curator, Ankori served as the founding head of Brandeis University’s Division of Creative Arts (2013-2019), curated three exhibitions with accompanying catalogs at the Rose Art Museum (2012, 2015, 2016), served as a member of the museum’s Collections Committee and Board of Advisors, and was the Director of Integrated Arts and Faculty Curator at the museum from 2013 to 2017. Before coming to Brandeis in 2010, Ankori had served as the Henya Sharef Professor of Humanities and Chair of the Art History department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and as a visiting associate professor at Harvard Divinity school.
Ankori has published numerous books, catalogs, and articles about modern and contemporary art viewed from a global perspective, emphasizing issues pertaining to gender, nationalism, identity, religion, trauma, exile, hybridity, disability, and their manifestations in the creative arts. Her books and essays have been published in numerous languages, including Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish. She is internationally renowned for her groundbreaking scholarship on Frida Kahlo. Her most recent curatorial projects, undertaken in collaboration with Indigenous Mexican fashion curator Circe Henestrosa, are the exhibition Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, currently on view at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London (2018) and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York (2019) also exhibited various iterations of this project. Ankori and Henestrosa are co-curating a new Kahlo exhibition, scheduled to open in the fall of 2021 at the Drents Museum in Holland.
Ankori and the Rose team have already begun planning an ambitious, multi-vocal collection show to mark the museum’s 60th anniversary, in addition to a schedule of rotating, special exhibitions that will bring new voices and perspectives to the Rose.
Ankori succeeds former Rose director Luis Croquer, who left the museum in February 2020.