Princeton University Art Museum Appoints Kelly Baum as First Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art


PRINCETON, N.J.—Furthering its position as a pacesetter in modern and contemporary art, the Princeton University Art Museum has appointed Kelly Baum as the first Haskell Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Since December 2007, Baum has served as the Museum’s Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art, during which time she greatly invigorated the Museum’s contemporary art department, expanded and diversified the contemporary collection and developed an international artist-in-residency program.

The endowment of the Haskell Curatorship by Princeton alumnus Preston H. Haskell III, Class of 1960, of Jacksonville, FL, himself a noted art collector, signals the Museum’s redoubled commitment to collecting and exhibiting the work of living artists and the great masters of the last century, according to Museum Director James Steward.

“Preston Haskell’s generosity, as well as that of Gene (Class of 1959) and Sueyun Locks in supporting the Locks Curatorial Fellowship, have made it possible to position Princeton as an emerging leader in modern and contemporary art,” said Steward. “It is vital for a leadership university to engage its students and members of the broader public with cutting-edge scholarship, important new insights into the art of the past 50 years, and opportunities to explore emerging trends in the visual arts. Thanks to the endowment of the Haskell Curatorship, as well as Kelly’s depth of experience in both modern and contemporary practice, the Museum is poised to be a leader in this area, as we have long been in more historical periods.”

In addition to her collecting, writing, teaching and outreach activities, Baum has worked for the past two years on the major exhibition Nobody’s Property: Art, Land, Space, 2000–2010. Scheduled to open this fall, it is one of the first exhibitions to systematically theorize and historicize the emergence of a new generation of land artists. Focusing on art made in the United States, Mexico, Turkey and the Middle East, Nobody’s Property will be accompanied by a scholarly catalogue edited by Baum. She is also curator of the upcoming exhibition Doug Aitken: Migration (Empire), which will be installed in front of the Princeton museum beginning in late August. In 2008, she co-curated Body Memory, critic’s pick, with Joel Smith.

“I’m honored to be appointed the inaugural Haskell Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art,” said Baum. “My attachment to the Museum is very strong, as is my commitment to Princeton’s faculty and students. I’m thrilled to be able to build on the work I began at Princeton as the Locks Fellow, and I look forward to introducing the Princeton community as well as our local and regional audiences to important, groundbreaking and compelling art for many years to come.”

Before coming to Princeton, Baum served for five years as assistant curator of contemporary art at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, where she commissioned new work and curated numerous exhibitions, including Carol Bove, Jedediah, Caesar,Kiefer in Context and Transactions. She also served as a curatorial assistant in the department of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Baum holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in art history from the University of Delaware and a B.A. in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work has been published extensively, including two recent essays in October, and she is a frequent panelist, presenter and speaker at conferences and museums nationwide.

Preston H. Haskell III is founder and chairman of The Haskell Company, a full- service engineering, architectural and construction firm in Jacksonville, FL. Haskell graduated from Princeton in 1960 with a degree in civil engineering and received an MBA from Harvard in 1962. He was recently appointed chair of the Princeton University Art Museum’s Advisory Council, which he joined in 1990, and served on the Princeton University Board of Trustees from 1996­–2000 and 2002–2006. Haskell is a generous philanthropist and supporter of the visual and performing arts, including the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, where he is Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He is an avid collector of art, especially abstract prints, drawings, paintings and sculpture from the mid- to late-20th century, especially the 1940s to the 1970s, which he frequently lends to museums.