Michigan State University has appointed Marc-Olivier Wahler as director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum effective July 1.
He will succeed founding director Michael Rush, who died in March 2015.
Wahler currently serves as founding director of the Chalet Society in Paris; artistic adviser for De Appel Arts Center, Amsterdam and CI Contemporary Istanbul; and founding director of Transformer Sculpture Park, Melides, Portugal.
An internationally recognized curator, scholar and museum professional, Wahler brings more than 20 years of experience to the Broad Art Museum. Throughout his career, Wahler has focused on contemporary art as a platform for building and strengthening communities and catalyzing interdisciplinary collaboration and exploration.
“As the new director, Mr. Wahler will bring a broad, international perspective to campus,” said MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt. “Such a perspective has always been consistent with our goal of having the Broad Art Museum serve as an MSU portal from which to explore the greater world.”
Wahler has curated more than 400 exhibitions around the globe, principally as museum director/chief curator, but also as a consultant and independent curator.
“Marc-Olivier brings many years of experience working with some of the most exciting contemporary artists from around the art world to East Lansing,” said Bonnie Larson, chairperson of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum International Board of Directors. “I am confident that Marc-Olivier’s vision and leadership will bring new insights and energy to the MSU campus, the local community and beyond.”
Wahler served as director and chief curator for the Palais de Tokyo from 2006 to 2012. During this time, he founded and served as editor in chief of PALAIS magazine, the museum’s publication exploring contemporary art, criticism and philosophy. In addition, Wahler served as director of the Swiss Institute in New York from 2000 to 2006.
“Marc-Olivier Wahler’s experience with international arts institutions makes him an ideal director for the Broad Art Museum at MSU, which in just a few years has demonstrated its global reach far beyond East Lansing,” said Eli Broad. “Edye and I are impressed with Marc-Olivier’s curatorial abilities and his deep appreciation for contemporary art, and we know he will continue the Broad Art Museum’s tradition of presenting thought-provoking and scholarly exhibitions.”
A Swiss native, Wahler was honored with the Meret Oppenheim Prize in 2013, Switzerland’s highest cultural award in the contemporary arts, and was made Chevalier of the order of Arts and Letters in France in 2011.
“The cutting-edge design of the Broad Art Museum pushed boundaries in architecture, and today it challenges us to do that with what’s inside,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “Marc-Olivier Wahler has a unique vision for community spaces where inquiry and creativity connect ideas, places and people in new and thought-provoking ways.”
Wahler has served as a guest lecturer at colleges and universities around the world, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature and master’s degrees in art history and philosophy from the University of Neuchâtel.
“The museum’s mission of employing international contemporary art and ideas as a platform for education and experimentation resonates deeply with so much of the work I have undertaken throughout my career,” Wahler said. “I look forward to collaborating with faculty and students conducting innovative research across the university and building upon the incredible work of the museum’s staff to deepen the institution’s role as a generator for experimentation and cross-disciplinary exchange and a vibrant resource for the entire East Lansing community.”
The 46,000-square-foot Broad Art Museum opened in 2012 and boasts a collection of 7,500 objects from the Greek and Roman periods through the Renaissance and on to the Modern. The museum is named in honor of Eli and Edythe Broad, longtime supporters of the MSU, who provided the lead gift of $28 million.