MCA Denver’s new director is Nora Burnett Abrams

Abrams was the museum’s Ellen Bruss curator and director of planning.

Nora Burnett Abrams. (From the Hip Photo)

Nora Burnett Abrams. (From the Hip Photo)

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The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver has named a new director: Nora Burnett Abrams.

Currently the Ellen Bruss curator and director of planning, Abrams, 41, will start the job today, according to a press release. She replaces Adam Lerner, who led the museum for a decade.

“I am honored to have been selected as MCA Denver’s next Mark G. Falcone Director,” Abrams said in a statement. “Having spent almost ten years at this institution, I am inspired daily by my colleagues and the creative energy in Denver. It is especially meaningful to succeed Adam Lerner who always encouraged me to stretch myself as a curator, conceive exhibitions that disrupt and break from convention and serve as a model for innovative thinking.”

Abrams began her career at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and hopped over to Denver and the MCA in 2010. Since arriving here, she’s organized more than 30 exhibitions and authored or contributed to the accompanying publications of more than 12 of them. Among her recent projects are “Basquiat Before Basquiat,” the first-ever survey of Senga Nengudi’s “R.S.V.P.” sculptures, and last year’s Tara Donovan retrospective, “Fieldwork.”

“After an extensive international search, the Board was unanimous in selecting Nora,” MCA Board Chair Fries said in a statement. “Over the last ten years, she has been instrumental in bringing MCA Denver to where it stands today as one of the most important cultural institutions in Colorado. Her distinct curatorial approach has proven time and again her ability to bring adventurous and compelling stories to light and to uncover previously unexamined facets of artists and their work. Nora’s unique appreciation for the special role MCA plays in the creative hearts and minds of Denverites and the next generation of museumgoers makes her the ideal candidate. We can’t wait to see where her visionary leadership takes us next.”

Abrams takes the lead in a period of growth for MCA Denver. It’s two years into its Elevated Heartbeat Campaign meant to pour $18 million from donations into building renovations, expansion of the exhibition and programming platform, and the launch of a civic art initiative that will support Denver-area artists. Attendance has doubled in the last five years, according to the press release.

If you want to dive deeper on Abrams, the New York Times decided to profile her.

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