Joseph Rosa, the John H. Bryan Curatorial Chair of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago, is stepping down to assume the directorship of the University of Michigan Museum of Art, several sources in the Chicago museum community told AN. He has overseen the creation of new galleries for the department, now the largest architecture and design galleries in the country, while initiating a contemporary design collection overseen by Zoe Ryan, the Neville Bryan Curator of Design, a Rosa appointee.
Rosa will take over at one of the leading collegiate art museums in the country, which recently completed an expansion designed by Allied Works Architecture.
While at the Art Institute, Rosa organized or oversaw exhibitions including Young Chicago, Douglas Garofalo, Xeriotarch: Works of Hernan Diaz Alonso, Julius Shulman: Modernists and the Metropolis, and Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago.
"He’s expanded the department, expanded the outlook, and brought in design," said architecture critic Edward Lifson. "That’s the way the world is going. You can’t go back. That will be Joe’s legacy."
Prior to his arrival at the Art Institute in 2006, Rosa was the architecture and design curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He also served as architecture curator at the Carnegie Museum’s Heinz Architectural Center and at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. He studied architecture at the Pratt Institute and Columbia University. Rosa could not immediately be reached for comment.
Rosa is the third well-known architecture curator to assume a museum directorship in the last few years. Terence Riley left the Museum of Modern Art in New York to run the Miami Art Museum in 2006, and Aaron Betsky, formerly of SFMOMA and the Netherlands Architecture Institute, now runs the Cincinnati Art Museum. Both were brought on to oversee high-profile expansions. Riley left the Miami Art Museum last year, immediately after the Herzog & de Meuron design was unveiled. The Cincinnati expansion, to be designed by Neutelings Riedijk, is on hold.