New Museum Of Contemporary Art Director Says She Wants To Focus On Community And Youth

Nora Burnett Abrams
From The Hip Photo
Nora Burnett Abrams is the Museum of Contemporary Art’s new director in Denver.

The Museum of Contemporary Art announced Tuesday that Nora Burnett Abrams will be its new Mark G. Falcone Director.

Abrams has been a curator at the museum for a decade and will be one of the youngest contemporary art directors in the country. She is taking over the job from Adam Lerner, who left in June.

“I see us only deepening our relationship to the community that we serve,” she said. “We have an amazing team in place to carry the institution forward into its next chapter, and it’s a really exciting moment to be a part of something that is poised for flight.”

The museum searched internationally for a candidate and said it selected Abrams because she has been instrumental in making the MCA what it is today.

“Her distinct curatorial approach has proven time and again her ability to bring adventurous and compelling stories to light and to uncover previously unexamined facets of artists and their work,” said board chair Mike Fries in a news release. “Nora’s unique appreciation for the special role MCA plays in the creative hearts and minds of Denverites and the next generation of museumgoers makes her the ideal candidate.”

Abrams said she hopes to continue focusing on Denver’s youth audience with leadership programs, like MCA’s Failure Lab, where teens learn to produce exhibitions, albums, fashion shows and get to work with artists and other staff.

“Our youth audience is a significant part of our total audience and we want to double down in terms of our commitment to welcoming and providing programmatic opportunities for them when they come here,” she said. “I think in a moment when a lot of cultural organizations are struggling to connect with younger audiences, we have demonstrated time and again that we are doing that.”

Abrams brought more than 30 exhibitions to Denver and has written and contributed more than a dozen publications. Her projects often capture unknown stories about artists’ lives. “Basquiat Before Basquiat” was an exhibit that traveled around the country and focused on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life in the East Village before he became a prominent painter.

Abrams has two exhibitions opening in September.

Francesca Woodman: Portrait of a Reputation” will feature the photographer’s coming-of-age with vintage prints, notes, letters, postcards and more that have never been shown.

Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler: Flora” will give insight into Flora Mayo’s childhood and early adulthood in Denver with film, photographs, letters and a sculpture.