THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO named a new senior director of operations. Gwendolyn Perry Davis has been elevated to the position, a critical leadership role overseeing both strategic and creative aspects of the museum’s operations.

Perry Davis’s new responsibilities include the collections and exhibitions department and the human resources, information technology, facilities, and security divisions.

In addition, she has been directing MCA Chicago’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, planning protocols and procedures based on local and national requirements for cultural institutions, and will continue to do so in her new position.

The museum is promoting from within. Perry Davis joined MCA Chicago in 2011 as deputy director of development. She had been serving as senior director of development since 2019 when her latest appointment was announced Oct. 12.

“We are thrilled to announce that we have filled this impactful senior position at the MCA with Gwen Perry Davis, an exceptional strategist and negotiator who has been a guiding force in the success of our development and fundraising goals,” MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn said in a statement.

“As the museum continues to evolve, especially since the COVID era, we recognize the need for an institutional director who has worked cross-departmentally with the confidence and respect of the staff. We are excited to have Gwen bring her experience, leadership, and creative ideas to the operations side of our museum where she has already forged an incredibly accomplished career.”

In recent years, MCA Chicago has organized landmark exhibitions, including “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now,” a focused survey of sculptor Richard Hunt, retrospectives of Kerry James Marshall and Howardena Pindell, and the first U.S. solo museum shows of Otobong Nkanga and Chicago artist Amanda Williams.

“Doro Olowu: Seeing Chicago” was on view earlier this year. In spring 2021, the largest presentation of Christina Quarles work to date will open.

Perry Davis has championed MCA Chicago’s art and artists during her nearly decade-long tenure. As senior director of development, she led the museum’s entire fundraising operation. She has developed longstanding relationships with individual donors, corporations, and foundations and overseen major campaigns helping to fortify the museum’s financial health and provide the resources and support necessary to present its exhibitions and programming.

The museum said Perry Davis’s strategies and performance “have enabled her to consistently exceed fundraising goals” and, in recent months, was “vital to the recovery of the museum during its five-month COVID-19 closure, securing grants that allowed the museum to retain its staff and continue its efforts toward racial and institutional equity.”

“We are excited to have Gwen bring her experience, leadership, and creative ideas to the operations side of our museum where she has already forged an incredibly accomplished career.” — MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn

Before joining MCA Chicago, Perry Davis was senior director of individual giving at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Previously, she served as director of regional development at Marquette University.

Perry Davis earned a BS degree in marketing from Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind. She also completed academic training at Harvard University and the Booth School of Business.

“I am honored to lead the MCA’s operations at a pivotal moment when the museum is implementing our strategic plan that embeds equity initiatives across everything we do, from new staff and leadership training, to our initiatives with youth and internships,” Perry Davis said in a statement. ”

I see opportunities for changes to further create a supportive and safe environment for staff and visitors. I am deeply committed to continuing to improve the functions and operations of the museum to build structural change with greater transparency and input from the staff and Board towards our vision. We know we have work to do, and we are focused on turning words into actions.” CT

 

Fully illustrated volumes have been published to accompany recent exhibitions at MCA Chicago, including “Duro Olowu: Seeing” and “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now,” the retrospective catalogs “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry” and “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen,” as well as the monograph “Christina Quarles.”

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