Sherri Geldin, director of the Wexner Center since 1993, is widely known as an innovative museum director, a dynamic arts leader, and an adept institution builder. Under Geldin’s leadership, the Wexner Center has emerged among the foremost contemporary art venues in the nation, with a diverse array of programs in the visual, performing, film, video, and design arts, as well as pioneering education programs. The Wexner Center’s global reach brings to Columbus leading artists from throughout the US, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in turn sends work produced at the Wex to places throughout the world.
Coupled with her pursuit of originality and rigor in the center’s artistic presentations is Geldin’s strong commitment to a sustained and generous artist residency program, through which the Wexner Center directly supports artists in the research, production, and presentation of new work (providing financial, intellectual, technical, and moral support, as well as the physical space in which to do their work). As such, the center has become a veritable beacon for artists—a laboratory for contemporary cultural inquiry and production.
During her tenure, Geldin has more than doubled the annual operating budget of the center (and balanced the budget every year), substantially grown the roster of Wexner Center Foundation trustees (locally and nationally), and garnered over $25 million in endowed funds for the center—including a $1.5 million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, making the Wexner Center the first university-based performing arts program to receive major support from that foundation. And in 2009, the center was awarded nearly $800,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for an expansive, cross-disciplinary project focusing on contemporary art in Brazil.
Geldin has consistently reinforced the center’s position as a physical and symbolic portal to The Ohio State University, enriching the campus experience for thousands of students and faculty, forging successful collaborations and exchanges with a host of academic departments and student organizations across campus—ranging far beyond Arts and Humanities to Business, Law, Medicine, and even Athletics. She has also established partnerships with highly respected museums, performing arts centers, and film institutes in this country and abroad. Over the years, the Wexner Center has grown considerably in media stature, attracting coverage from local, national, and international publications and media outlets across the general news and arts/culture spectrum.
From 2002 to 2005, Geldin oversaw a complex $15 million renovation of the Wexner Center to ensure museum-industry standards for light and climate control. During this period, she took the Wex out into the community, securing spaces and mounting exhibitions and public programs around town. Since then, she has secured and overseen such major exhibitions as the William Wegman show in the fall of 2007 (a touring exhibition that made Columbus its only Midwestern stop) and Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms in the fall of 2008, which garnered national attention as the only US stop for this ambitious, sweeping look at Warhol’s multimedia work. In the fall of 2009, the Wexner Center jointly organized with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art the highly acclaimed exhibition Luc Tuymans, which had its premiere at the Wex before touring the country and overseas. And in fall 2012, Geldin organized the first-ever exhibition of Annie Leibovitz’s Master Set as well as her Pilgrimage series. On the occasion of the Wexner Center’s 10th anniversary in 1999, Geldin co-curated with performing arts director Charles Helm the exhibition Julie Taymor: Playing with Fire, which went on to tour the country.
In fall 2013, on the occasion of her 20th anniversary as Director of the Wexner Center, the board of trustees created the Sherri Geldin Innovation Fund, a new endowment to support creative experimentation and production. And in May 2014, she was honored with the Ohio Governor’s Award for the Arts as the foremost arts administrator in the state.
Geldin served for nine years as a trustee of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, including two years as chair. She is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors and has served on numerous panels and juries across the country, including the American Assembly at Columbia University, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the Judith Rothschild Foundation. In 2006, Geldin was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Cultural Ministry in Paris, an honor created by the French government in 1957 to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. And she was invited in 2007 by Yale University President Richard Levin to serve on the University Council Committee on the School of Art.
In 2002, Geldin received a YWCA’s annual Women of Achievement Award. She also served for nine years on the board of Experience Columbus, and served for three years as a member of the Greater Columbus Creative Cultural Commission—created by Columbus City Council to examine city policies and seek long-term funding solutions for local arts groups.
Prior to coming to the Wexner Center, Geldin was Associate Director of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles where, for more than a decade, she played an integral role in the artistic, educational, and administrative growth of that institution. She also worked closely with Frank Gehry and Arata Isozaki on planning and design for MOCA’s two buildings, and oversaw the organization of several major exhibitions.
Geldin received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude. Subsequently, she earned an MBA with a specialization in Arts Management, also from UCLA.