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Ryan Gets Top Architecture Post at AIC
New head of architecture and design department wants to add landscape, too.
Zoe Ryan.
Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago

Design curator Zoe Ryan has been named the Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago, following the departure of Joseph Rosa who held the post for five years before leaving to direct the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Ryan has been interim chair since July 2010. Ryan had previously been the museum’s first Neville Bryan Curator of Design, charged with building the institution’s first design collection.

“Zoe is internationally recognized for her work within the fields of architecture and design, and, since assuming the position of Interim Chair, she has shown real leadership of the department,” said James Cuno, president of the Art Institute, in a statement. “She brings to the position a wealth of experience, extensive relationships in the worlds of architecture and design, and an enthusiasm and tenacity for continually rethinking the presentation and collection of architecture and design.”

Since coming to the Art Institute in 2006, she has been the curator of several exhibitions and written the accompanying catalogues, including Graphic Thought Facility: Resourceful Design (2008), Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design (2009), and, with Rosa, Hyperlinks: Architecture and Design (2010). Prior to coming to Chicago, she was the senior curator at the Van Alen Institute, a non-profit think tank in New York devoted to improving public design.

In addition to shifting the department from a regional to an international focus and adding design to the collection, Ryan told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that she plans to add landscape design to the museum’s purview. She, along with assistant architecture curator Alison Fisher, is currently organizing a major exhibition on Bertrand Goldberg—whose Prentice Hospital is now threatened with demolition—set to open this fall.

Alan G. Brake