Walker woes

The art center loses its fourth staff member in two months

Is there quitting juice in the Walker water? Less than two months after the new building opened its doors, four staff members have abruptly thrown in the towel. First, senior curator Philippe Vergne left in May to head up a new museum in Paris. Then, on May 26th, the center's deputy director and chief operating officer, Ann Bitter, announced her resignation. One week later, visual arts curator Douglas Fogle announced he had accepted a position at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and chief curator Richard Flood said he was leaving after an 11-year tenure for a director position at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. That leaves the Walker with only two curators. Both Flood and Fogle are expected to be replaced next month.

The recent announcements aren't without controversy: The center still is $6 million short of its $92 million goal, and the new Swiss-architect-designed building ended up costing $70 million, $6 million more than budgeted. The additional costs, which Bitter attributed to the building's "experimental design" (its first skin was Teflon), have left the completion of the Walker offices and expanded Sculpture Garden on hold until additional revenue can be generated. The entire project (including garages, land, and the Sculpture Garden that will take over the Guthrie's space) now stands at $130.5 million.

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