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Sherri Geldin assumed the directorship of the Wexner Center for the Arts in September 1993, just four years after its inauguration. Despite its position as a relative “newcomer” among arts institutions and its location outside so-called cultural capitals, she saw the center’s bold creative mandate—combined with the intellectual engine of a research university—as a compelling platform from which to engage the ever-evolving cultural ideas, practices, and debates of our time. From the outset, Geldin has been resolute in presenting ambitious and adventurous programming with a global reach, reflecting and serving diverse Columbus constituencies as well as national and international audiences. Over her now 25 years of leadership, the Wexner Center has emerged among the foremost contemporary art venues in the nation, and Geldin has been recognized as an accomplished museum director and adept institution builder.
Alongside conceptual and creative rigor across all artistic presentations, Geldin embraced the center’s robust commitment to a sustained and generous artist residency program, which directly supports artists in the research, production, and presentation of new work. And over the course of her tenure, the center has also become known for developing and launching significant curatorial and professional talent into the museum field. Geldin has consistently worked to reinforce 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 by bringing renowned art historians, critics, cultural commentators, and social activists to the Wex and forging successful collaborations and exchanges with a host of academic departments and student organizations.
Under her leadership, the Wexner Center has established partnerships with highly respected museums, performing arts centers, and film institutes in this country and abroad—and, of course, with groundbreaking creative talents around the world. Even a partial list of figures appearing at the Wex over the years is indicative of the center’s commitment to emerging, established, and renowned artists alike—working in every conceivable discipline.
A key hallmark of Geldin’s tenure has been her commitment to making the Wex a place to convene difficult, but nonetheless essential, conversations across a wide range of subjects. Conceived in 2005, the center’s annual Director’s Dialogue on Art and Social Change regularly invites artists, academics, and recognized experts to explore and illuminate the ever more potent intersections between art and social justice—addressing such topics as racial discrimination, cultural and gender bias, sexual identity and orientation, criminal justice and mass incarceration, climate change, and other pressing issues of our time.