Johanna Burton Appointed New Director of the Wexner Center for the Arts

Wed, Nov 28, 2018

The Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University has appointed Johanna Burton as its next director. Since 2013, Burton has served as Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum in New York, and she is also series editor for the museum’s Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture. Burton steps into the director role in March 2019, succeeding Sherri Geldin, who has served as Wex director for 25 years.

“Johanna is the perfect leader—intelligent, inquisitive, collaborative, and ambitious. We couldn’t be more thrilled that she will guide the arts center into the future, while building on the superb work of Sherri Geldin and the talented staff,” said Abigail Wexner, center trustee and cochair of the 16-person selection committee.

Burton is an active scholar, curator, and educator—her previous posts include Director of the Graduate Program at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies and Associate Director and Senior Faculty Member at the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program. Burton’s curatorial projects examine artists and movements that challenge conventions and shift the field. Her exhibition credits include Sherrie Levine: Mayhem at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2011); Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology at the Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles (2014); and Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room (2016) and Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, both at the New Museum (2017).

Burton’s contributions to scholarship and criticism are many; notable is her reestablishing of the New Museum’s Critical Anthologies series after a 10-year hiatus. Recently Burton has served as coeditor of Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (New Museum/MIT, 2016) and coeditor of Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (New Museum/MIT, 2018). Burton holds multiple graduate degrees, from Princeton, NYU, and SUNY Stony Brook. She completed her undergraduate work in art history at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is a 2019 fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

“The Wexner Center for the Arts is a vital hub of campus, community, and global engagement for the university,” comments Bruce McPheron, provost of The Ohio State University. He continued, “Johanna’s impressive track record of thriving simultaneously in the scholarly, artistic, and educational communities will allow her to further and deepen the interdisciplinary and multilayered connections that distinguish the Wex.”

In accepting the post Burton noted, “The Wexner Center is one of this country’s most venerable contemporary art institutions, noted for its trailblazing spirit, dedication to pushing boundaries, and engagement with leading and emerging artists alike to create new work. I am excited to join the board and staff in thinking about how we best steward this incredible legacy and momentum to continue to create programs, exhibitions, publications, and communities of creatives that break ground and investigate the questions and challenges of our time.”

New Museum Director Lisa Phillips observes, “Johanna Burton is an exceptionally gifted curator, scholar, and thinker who has done an outstanding job leading the New Museum’s Department of Education and Public Engagement for the past six years. She has set the bar high with intelligence, grace, and integrity, and she will do great things at the Wexner.”

Burton joins a senior team including Lane Czaplinski, Director of Performing Arts; Dave Filipi, Director of Film/Video; Michael Goodson, Senior Curator of Exhibitions; Shelly Casto, Director of Education; and Lindsay Cooper Martin, Deputy Director. As director, Burton will helm all aspects of the institution’s ambitious array of multidisciplinary arts and education programs, including one of the most generous and expansive artist residency programs in the country. She will oversee a 70-person staff and $12 million dollar budget.

“Johanna is a brilliant choice to lead the Wex through its next chapter,” shares outgoing Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin. “I can’t imagine a more perfect successor; one to whom I am both elated and deeply gratified to pass the baton after 25 years.”


Additional materials, including hi-res image and artists' praise for Johanna Burton's appointment