THE CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM HOUSTON (CAMH) announced a major appointment a few days ago. Allison Glenn is joining the museum as senior curator and director of public art.

Glenn will lead the non-collecting museum’s exhibition programming, public art projects, and artist’s initiatives, and provide senior leadership for the curatorial team.

She comes to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., where she is associate curator, contemporary art.

Glenn curated “Promise, Witness, Remembrance,” a groundbreaking exhibition memorializing Breonna Taylor. The show is currently on view through June 6 at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky.

Featuring 23 local artists and national figures including Amy Sherald, Kerry James Marshall, Theaster Gates, and Hank Willis Thomas, the exhibition has received national coverage praising its immediacy and Glenn’s collaborative curatorial approach.

“CAMH is thrilled to welcome Allison to lead our curatorial and public art initiatives. Allison brings one of the most vital international curatorial voices to Houston—her vision is uniquely rooted both in deep trust of artists and care for community. Allison will chart an adventurous path for CAMH that elevates artists, authentically engages diverse audiences, and achieves meaningful civic impact,” CAMH Executive Director Hesse McGraw said in a statement.

“Allison will chart an adventurous path for CAMH that elevates artists, authentically engages diverse audiences, and achieves meaningful civic impact.” — CAMH Executive Director Hesse McGraw

A CURATOR AND WRITER, Glenn joined Crystal Bridges in February 2018. She curates exhibitions at the museum and its downtown outpost, The Momentary. Recent shows have included “State of the Art 2020,” a sprawling survey of art produced by artists from around the country, which she co-curated. Also in 2020, she led the museum’s presentation of “Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…,” which was organized by the Portland Art Museum.

In 2019, Glenn curated “Color Field,” a sculpture exhibition staged in the Ozark woods that surround the museum. The show featured 14 sculptures by 11 contemporary artists, including Odili Donald Odita, Sam Falls, William Eggleston, Amanda Ross-Ho and Jessica Stockholder. “Color Field” traveled to the Baker Museum in Naples, Fla., and the University of Houston, Texas.

During her tenure at Crystal Bridges, Glenn worked with Lauren Haynes, who served as director of artist initiatives and curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges and The Momentary. Haynes was appointed senior curator at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, effective June 2020.

Glenn will continue to engage with Crystal Bridges, working on projects already planned for this year and next with artists Rashid Johnson, Bethany Collins, and Cauleen Smith.

Organized by Taylor’s hometown museum, “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” shines a light on the life of the young woman, who was shot and killed by Louisville police in her home on March 13, 2020, at age 26. The exhibition reflects on her murder and the social justice protests that swept the city, nation, and world in the months that followed.

Glenn developed the show working with Taylor’s family; a community steering committee led by Toya Northington, the museum’s community engagement strategist; and an advisory panel that includes Sherald, Gates, Thomas, and relatives of Trayvon Martin and Alton Sterling.

PRIOR TO JOINING CRYSTAL BRIDGES, Glenn was the manager of publications and curatorial associate for Prospect New Orleans, during Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp (2016-18), for which Trevor Schoonmaker served as artistic director.

In 2015, Glenn had a curatorial fellowship with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. She also served as a research fellow with Gates’s Dorchester Projects and program manager for the artist’s Arts + Public Life initiative at the University of Chicago. Earlier, she worked for two years as a director at Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago (2014-16).

Glenn received a bachelor of fine art degree in photography with a co-major in urban studies from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., and holds dual master’s degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in modern art history, theory and criticism and arts administration and policy.

In July 2020, CAMH announced the appointment of Janice Bond as deputy director of the museum. She will work closely with Glenn. CAMH’s senior curator position was last filled by Valerie Cassel Oliver. She held the post from 2000 to 2017, when she joined the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, where she is curator of modern and contemporary art. Glenn officially starts in the role Aug. 1.

Glenn is “thrilled” about the opportunity before her. “My role at CAMH will advance the museum’s world-renowned contemporary art program, broadening it to include collaborative engagements within and across museums, institutions, and publics in Houston and beyond,” she said in a statement.

“Working with multiple publics and diverse communities continues to be an important part of my work, and this leadership role at CAMH will afford the scope of vision to include directing a public art program that expands, decenters, and relocates the museum as a site. I look forward to joining the incredible team at CAMH, and to building upon the influential legacy of former Senior Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver—a curator I profoundly admire.” CT


IMAGE: Allison Glenn. | Photo by Rana Young


FIND MORE about Allison Glenn on her website


“Out of Easy Reach,” documents a group exhibition guest curated by Allison Glenn in 2018 that explored expanding concepts of abstraction. The show featured works by 24 Black and Latinx female identifying artists made between 1980 and 2018. Hosted across three Chicago institutions—Stony Island Arts Bank, DePaul Art Museum, and Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois Chicago—the exhibition subsequently traveled to Grunwald Gallery at University of Indiana, Bloomington. “Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp” was published to accompany the New Orleans triennial staged in 2017-18. Glenn managed the publication of the volume and contributed texts about participating artists Kahlil Joseph, Odili Donald Odita, Yoko Ono, and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz.


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