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Santa Monica museum official appointed to St. Louis post

April 19, 2012|By Jori Finkel
  • Lisa Melandri, deputy director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art, is leaving to head the Museum of Contemporary Art in St. Louis.
Lisa Melandri, deputy director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art, is leaving… (Courtesy Santa Monica Museum…)

After more than a decade as the deputy director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Lisa Melandri is moving to St. Louis to become the director of the Contemporary Art Museum there. She will leave her current post at the end of June and start her new job in August.

“I feel like I'm going to a sister institution in that it’s also a noncollecting contemporary art museum,” Melandri said. “I find that model so exciting and thrilling. It’s ideal for presentation of contemporary art, and it has this ability to be nimble, unlike some museums with permanent collections.”

The official announcement notes that Melandri has helped to oversee the Santa Monica museum during a time of growth, in which its operating budget nearly doubled to reach $2.2 million. But along with her managerial work, Melandri is also known for curating a number of important shows, including “Combustione: Alberto Burri and America” in 2010 and “William Pope L — Art After White People: Time, Trees, and Celluloid in 2007.

She also co-curated with Michael Taylor of the Philadelphia Museum of Art “Enigma Variations: Philip Guston and Giorgio de Chirico” in 2006, and co-curated with director Elsa Longhauser shows of work by Al Taylor and Beatrice Wood.

Melandri, who plans to continue to curate some shows from her new post but described her priority "especially upon starting, as shaping programming more broadly,"  described the move as a natural next step in her career. She said she is impressed so far by St. Louis's "extraordinary civic commitment to culture." She also praised CAM's board and chief curator,  Dominic Molon, who joined the museum in 2010 after establishing himself at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

“I think Dominic and I have very in-step visions for how to create a program that reaches out broadly. You want a program that is essential in the discourse of contemporary art in the world and to balance that with serving the immediate community of your audience in St. Louis.”

As for leaving her current home, she called it “bittersweet. I have loved and adored Los Angeles, and I mean everything — the landscape, the culture, the art world, this institution, Elsa. It has been such an extraordinarily welcoming place and home, professionally and personally.”


Review: Beatrice Wood at Santa Monica Museum of Art

Art review: Combustione: Alberto Burri and America

Elsa Longhauer's imprint on the Santa Monica Museum of Art

  --Jori Finkel

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