Gregory Page, Board Chair of the M (Minnesota Museum of American Art) announced on July 14 that Kristin Makholm has been released from her position as Executive Director of the M after serving for more than a decade. “An Interim Director will be announced shortly, and the Board will begin a national search for a permanent Executive Director,” Page said.
Makholm began work at the M in 2009, taking the reins of a museum without a permanent home at the time. Lacking a museum building, she took the museum out 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, Makholm 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. It opened the 18,700-square-foot first phase of the new facility, including a center for creativity, galleries, and public spaces in December 2018.
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.
Other notable recent exhibitions include the playful large scale installation of Dietrich Sieling in City Bus At Day, City Bus At Night, No Clouds Everywhere; Brad Kahlhamer: A Nation of One, a survey exhibition of work by the tribally ambiguous multimedia artist; and The Good Making of Good Things: Craft Horizons Magazine, 1941–1979, featuring pieces from the M’s collection of fine fiber, clay, and metal from the midcentury.
“The future is bright for the M,” Page said, “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,’” he concluded.
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.
Currently closed due to covid-19, the M is the only Minnesota museum focusing entirely on American art, with a special commitment to studio craft and Minnesota Artists. When Phase 2 opens, the museum will have more than 35,000 square-feet of galleries, classrooms, community space, and offices.