MINNEAPOLIS - The renowned Walker Art Center will begin a search for a new leader following the announcement that executive director Olga Viso will step down.
A media release from the Walker says the board and Viso came to the conclusion that now is an ideal time for the institute to make a transition.
Viso's 10-year tenure at the Walker has been marked by a number of notable projects, including the renovation and design of the institute's popular Sculpture Garden and a massive $75 million capital campaign.
“We are grateful for Olga’s leadership and celebrate her significant contributions to the Walker Art Center during the past 10 years,” said Monica Nassif, Board President in a written release. “She led the organization through a major capital campaign to fund the vision and re-design of our entire campus, including the new Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In addition, she championed experimental and underrepresented artists throughout her tenure."
The board also credits Viso for serving as a cultural leader nationally and locally on the boards of the Association of Art Museum Directors and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
More recently, however, Viso was at the center of a firestorm over a sculpture named "Scaffold" which depicted the gallows used to hang 38 Dakota Indian men in the wake of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. The sculpture was erected as part of the garden remodel.
Saying the work opened old wounds and was disrespectful to their communities, Native Americans from Minnesota and across the country came to Minneapolis to demonstrate, demanding that "Scaffold" be taken down. Eventually the Walker relented and removed the sculpture.
A search committee will be formed to select a replacement.