Olga Viso steps down as Walker Art Center's executive director

Olga Viso

Olga Viso Tom Wallace

It's the end of an era at the Walker Art Center, as the museum announced today that executive director Olga Viso is leaving her position after a decade.

"It has been a privilege to lead this venerable contemporary arts institution the last 10 years and to support the work of some of the most compelling and adventurous international artists working today across disciplinary boundaries," she states via press release.

A lot has happened at the Walker over the past 10 years. During that time, the museum has added over 5,000 new items to its collection, including props, videos, costumes, and other ephemera from dance giant Merce Cunningham. As an expert in Latin American arts, Viso brought in unique shows and collaborations with artists including the Guerrilla Girls and Guillermo Kuitca. "Adios Utopia," currently on display at the museum, features art from Cuba.

Her time at the Walker also included the massive $75 million project that entailed remodeling the museum's entryway, restaurant, outside landscaping, and revamping the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, adding pieces that include Katharina Fritsch's giant blue rooster, Hahn/Cock.

 "Completing the vision for the campus that began in 2005 with the Walker's Herzog and DeMeuron addition has been an absolute highlight," she says.

That project was not without controversy, however. Sam Durant's sculpture Scaffold, a playground-like piece representing the largest mass execution (38 Dakota men) in U.S. history, drew protests from the community. Eventually, the artist and museum opened up talks with the Dakota community, and the piece was dismantled and is set to be burned on sacred ground.

During her time at the Walker, Viso has focused on increasing diversity, both on staff and in the shows she helped bring to the museum; the diversity of the Walker's Board increased from five- to 20-percent.

In the meantime, the Walker will be looking to fill the position.