Sherri Geldin, director of the Wexner Center since 1993, is widely known as an innovative museum director, an accomplished and dynamic arts leader, and an adept institution builder. Under Geldin’s leadership, the center has emerged as among the foremost contemporary art venues in the nation, with a diverse array of programs in the visual, performing, film, media, and design arts. The Wexner Center’s global reach brings to Columbus leading artists and cultural figures from throughout the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and at the same time sends work produced at the Wex to places throughout the world.
Parallel with her pursuit of originality and rigor in the center’s artistic and education programs is Geldin’s commitment to sustained and generous artist residencies, 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 laboratory for contemporary culture across campus and community alike, while significantly advancing the field nationally and internationally.
During her tenure, Geldin has more than doubled (and consistently balanced) the annual operating budget of the center and garnered more than $10 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. She has worked closely with her board to significantly expand the roster of Wexner Center Foundation trustees (locally and nationally), and added distinguished members to the center’s International Arts Advisory Council.
Geldin has consistently reinforced the center’s position as a physical and symbolic portal to Ohio State, 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 from the arts and humanities to the sciences, business, law, medicine, and even athletics. She has also established partnerships for the Wex with highly respected museums, performing arts centers, and film institutes in this country and abroad. During Geldin’s tenure, 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 bring it up to 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 in alternative sites around town, and reopening the center with a multimedia flourish dubbed Wex Wide Open. Since then, she has secured and overseen such major exhibitions at the Wex as Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms in the fall of 2008, a sweeping look at Warhol’s multimedia work and the most ambitious and transformative installation in the center’s history. In the fall of 2009, the Wexner Center jointly organized with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art the critically acclaimed exhibition Luc Tuymans, which had its premiere at the Wex before touring the country and culminating in Europe. Similarly, the center’s summer and fall 2010 Mark Bradford exhibition marked the first comprehensive show of this artist’s work, and is touring to four other national venues.
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. Recently, she was invited by Yale University President Richard Levin to serve on the University Council Committee on the School of Art. 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.
In 2002, she received one of the YWCA’s annual Women of Achievement Awards. She also served for nine years on the board of Experience Columbus, and continues to participate in various civic initiatives to advance the economic, educational, and cultural vitality of Columbus in part through a vibrant arts landscape, including the Columbus Cultural Leadership Consortium. She has served as a member of Ohio State’s Design Review Board, a select group that advises campus leaders on enhancing the architectural and landscape design at Ohio State. She played a significant role in the One Ohio State Framework project led by Sasaki Associates (an ambitious master planning initiative for the entire university) and continues to advise the university’s Arts and Memorials Committee, which oversees public art across campus, as well as serving on the Art Advisory Committee for Project One, Ohio State’s billion-dollar medical center expansion, due for completion in 2014.
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.