The Art Institute of Chicago, one of the nation’s major art museums, has an-
nounced the appointment of Zoë Ryan as the Neville Bryan Curator of Design. For the last 6 years, Ryan, 29, has been curator at the Van Alen Institute in
New York, most recently of The Good Life: New Public Spaces for Recreation. She will relocate to Chicago to take this position created under the auspices of Joseph Rosa, the museum’s curator of architecture and design.
“Zoë was the first person that came to mind when we started discussing filling this position,” said Rosa. “I’ve always been impressed by her.” Rosa first worked with Ryan when he brought the Van Alen show, Architecture + Water, curated by Paul Lewis to the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2002. “I’ve always
been impressed by her. She’s someone who can represent the department
and someone who you can be in synch with,” said Rosa. “This is a great place where she can come into her own. And now expand and help us make a presence.”
In her position at the Van Alen, Ryan has curated several large-scale shows devoted to role of architecture and urban space, the primary focus of the insti-
tution. Some of these shows, including Open: New Designs for Public Space, were the first Van Alen shows to travel to other institutions such as the National Building Museum. The Good Life: New Public Spaces for Recreation opened last month in a temporary exhibition space at the end of a pier on the Hudson River.
“My background is in museums and the Art Institute is in such an exciting place right now,” said Ryan, who officially begins her post on October 31. “One of the most exciting things is to see how the Art Institute will be transformed.” Prior to the Van Alen, Ryan held positions the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has written widely for a number of publications, including Blueprint, Monument, and The Architect’s Newspaper.
Last year, when Rosa arrived at the Art Institute after being hired away from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, he was charged with filling two junior positions in the architecture and design department. While one of the positions morphed into the design curator job, the third slot, a junior curator of architecture, has not yet been filled.