Betti-Sue Hertz will become the new Director and Chief Curator of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, effective September 1, 2019. Hertz comes to Columbia from a 30-year career of leadership in the art museum field. A New York City native, she returns to the city after 20 years in California, where she served in major roles including, most recently, as Director of Visual Arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and Curator of Contemporary Art at the San Diego Museum of Art. As Wallach Director, she follows Deborah Cullen-Morales, who stepped down in August of 2018 to become the Executive Director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Hertz brings to the Wallach Gallery an exemplary mix of experience, vision and understanding of the arts and academia. She has long been an innovator in presenting to American audiences cutting-edge art from various regions around the world. Her strong belief in diversity and inclusion was shaped during the early years of her career as the director of visual arts spaces in the South Bronx, and she is enthusiastic about carrying that work forward at the Wallach. Her work as a curator has focused on the areas of global exchange, the urban environment, and the intersection of aesthetics and social issues. Major exhibitions that Hertz has curated (or co-curated) include Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa, which was presented by both Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2014, and the 2013 Dissident Futures, also at Yerba Buena, which explored how we think about possible futures through a variety of media.
Hertz is well positioned to guide the Wallach, with its foothold in the Lenfest Center for the Arts on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, in reaching its community in new and innovative ways, and to bring Columbia’s faculty and students into creative conversation with its neighbors. “I am especially excited,” she said, “about making visible and public the work of the University’s talented scholars and artists in dialogue with the dynamic energies of Upper Manhattan’s local artistic communities and cultural institutions.”
Hertz holds an MFA from Hunter College and studied in the Ph.D. program in art history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has published numerous exhibition catalogues and writes regularly for periodicals and anthologies.
With her depth of experience and knowledge, Hertz is poised to lead the Wallach at an exciting new stage in its history. This past year’s blockbuster exhibition, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today, was a game changer for the gallery, drawing record numbers of visitors. The Wallach’s current exhibition, After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art, closes on October 6, 2019. Next up will be Waiting for Omar Gatlato: Contemporary Art from Algeria and its Diaspora, which opens on October 26, 2019 and will be on view through March 15, 2020.