NM Museum of Art director leaving for Arizona post

The director of the New Mexico Museum of Art is leaving to take a position in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Mary Kershaw, who has held the museum position in Santa Fe since 2010, will assume the role of director of the Museum of Northern Arizona on June 3. Her last day at the state-run Museum of Art is May 31.

Mary Kershaw

“It was an opportunity that interested me, but also in terms of here in New Mexico, I’ve been here, I’m starting my 10th year, I’ve accomplished a lot of the things I set out to do when I came here,” Kershaw told the Journal Tuesday.

Commenting on her ternure, Kershaw noted overseeing the Museum of Art’s Centennial celebrations in 2017 and spearheading plans for the Vladem Contemporary art museum, a wing of the Museum of Art that is to be installed at an expanded and renovated former state archives building at Guadalupe and Montezuma.

The contemporary design for the multimillion-dollar project was recently the subject a special meeting with the city’s Historic District Review Board, where it met both criticism and praise.

Kershaw said she feels that she’s leaving the project in a good “handover” stage. She described the Vladem design as nearly complete — though she said the museum seeks to integrate public suggestions — and said the state is looking at a groundbreaking later this year.

“It’s a really good punctuation point on that project,” Kershaw said. “So in that sense, the timing is good.”

She also cited as accomplishments ongoing museum restorations intended to get back some of its original 1917 aesthetics, including work in the courtyard, galleries and lobby, uncovering old skylights, and other changes.

Kershaw also noted exhibition programming changes, including showing international and national collections through partnerships like one established with the British Museum of Art.

State Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego said an acting director will be named in the coming weeks.

“In many ways, I feel she has shepherded the museum into an excellent position to begin its next 100 years,” said Garcia y Griego said of Kershaw.

“We are really grateful to her service to the state and the citizens and New Mexico and everything she’s done to make arts and culture available to all New Mexicans.”

Kershaw’s departure comes shortly after leadership transitions at the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors. Former executive director Andrew Wulf was let go in February. Last week, DCA named Las Cruces native Billy Garrett as that museum’s interim director.

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