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News / April 30, 2014

AGO Hires New Chief Curator Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith, currently deputy director and chief curator of the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art and soon to be chief curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Photo: Jim Newberry. Stephanie Smith, currently deputy director and chief curator of the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art and soon to be chief curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Photo: Jim Newberry.

The Art Gallery of Ontario has hired American Stephanie Smith as its new chief curator.

Currently the deputy director and chief curator of the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, where she has worked since 1999, Smith will begin at the AGO on August 19.

The hiring of Smith may be viewed as part of an AGO attempt to engage wider publics and increase its international profile. According to a University of Chicago faculty webpage, Smith has focused on “socially engaged public practice” as well as “issues of art and sustainability,” founding the university’s Open Practice Committee.

Smart has worked notably on the exhibitions “Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art” (2005) and “Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art” (2012).

“Beyond Green” toured to New York’s Museum of Arts & Design and Portland’s Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art, among other institutions. “Feast,” currently showing at SITE Santa Fe, in Chicago included a salon entitled The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art.

In a release, AGO director Matthew Teitelbaum said that “Stephanie is a strategic, innovative and inspiring leader whose adventurous projects combine international scope while paying close attention to her local community…she has a proven track record for developing interdisciplinary projects that encourage deep audience engagement and participation, and I’m delighted that she’ll bring that expertise and passion to the AGO.”

In the same release, Smith said, “I’m thrilled to be joining the AGO at such an exciting time in the Gallery’s history… My belief that visitor experience is paramount to an art museum’s mission aligns perfectly with the AGO’s commitment to listening carefully to its audience as it develops engaging, rigorous programming.”

Prior to joining the Smart’s staff, Smith held curatorial positions at Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston and the Rice University Art Gallery.

Smart’s appointment seems to fill the vacancy left by another American, Elizabeth Smith, who was executive director of curatorial affairs at the AGO from 2010 to 2013 and left for a position at the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York.

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is a writer and editor of white settler Canadian (Irish and Ashkenazi) descent. She is also news and special sections editor at Canadian Art and has written for the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications. Sandals welcomes tips, corrections and comments anytime at leah@canadianart.ca.