Cultural Comings and Goings: The Whitney’s New Chief Curator and More

Jeremy Ney, Harry Cooper and Stefan Krause are among the art insiders stepping into new roles.

A collage of four people who are all curators or museum professionals
Clockwise, from upper left: Jeremy Ney, Stefan Krause, Harry Cooper and Kim Conaty. Courtesy their institutions

From Harry Cooper taking on a newly created role at the National Gallery of Art to Stefan Krause’s curatorial appointment in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Arms and Armor Department, here are some of the most notable changes recently announced across the arts and culture sphere.

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Kim Conaty tapped as the Whitney Museum’s new chief curator

Woman in green blazer stands against grey wall
Kim Conaty. Bryan Derballa/Courtesy Whitney Museum

The Whitney Museum has promoted Kim Conaty, formerly curator of drawings and prints at the New York museum, to chief curator. In addition to overseeing the institution’s permanent collection and exhibition, she will be responsible for managing its curatorial, publications and conservation departments.

Conaty made a name for herself at the Whitney curating landmark exhibitions like the acclaimed 2022 “Edward Hopper’s New York” and presenting the first survey of Ruth Asawa’s drawing practice in the 2023 “Ruth Asawa Through Line.” Her newest show will open this June and present the 1972 Survival Piece #5: Portable Orchard, a major example of land art from Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison.

In her new role, Conaty is set to join the museum’s leadership team of director Scott Rothkopf, deputy director I.D. Aruede, chief operating officer Amy Roth and chief strategy officer Andrew Cone. While helping shape the museum’s mission, she plans to emphasize investments in emerging talent and Latino and Indigenous artists, she told The New York Times.

“It’s a great honor to take on this leadership role at the Whitney, an institution that has long held a special place for me,” said Conaty, who started in the leadership position earlier this month, in a statement. Prior to joining the Whitney, she also worked in curatorial roles at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, in addition to holding positions at the Clark Institute, New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, the Guggenheim and Harvard Art Museums.

The Frick appoints Jeremy Ney as head of music and performance

Headshot of man wearing black suit and tie
Jeremy Ney. Joseph Coscia Jr./Courtesy Frick Collection

As the Frick Collection prepares to move back into its renovated Fifth Avenue home later this year, the museum is bringing on Jeremy Ney to head its music and performance programming. Ney, who has nearly 15 years of experience in musical presentations, will join the institution next month.

For more than a dozen years, Ney has balanced traditional music offerings with innovative programming as senior director of Phillips music at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Like the Frick, the Phillips was originally established by a wealthy arts benefactor and has offered a classical music series since the 1930s. Ney also formerly worked as program director at Halcyon Arts Lab, where he oversaw its annual chamber music series and developed a mentorship program and fellowship for emerging artists.

At the Frick, he will be responsible for presenting music in its galleries and managing its 86-year-old classical concert program. he latter will take advantage of the museum’s newly constructed 220-seat auditorium—one of the additions to the institution’s Gilded Age mansion, which is nearing the end of a major restoration project. “The new auditorium will provide an incredible space for performance, allowing audiences to reconnect with the storied core classical program at the Frick, while also providing greater flexibility to present a broad mix of musical styles,” said Ney in a statement.

Harry Cooper takes on a new curatorial role at the National Gallery

Headshot of man in black suit and red tie.
Harry Cooper. Courtesy the National Gallery of Art

Harry Cooper, the long-time head of the National Gallery of Art’s department of modern and contemporary art, is taking on a new role at the Washington, D.C.-based museum. Cooper will now oversee its early 20th-century paintings and sculptures as the inaugural Bunny Mellon curator of modern art.

Throughout his 16 years as a department head, Cooper “has put an indelible and unique mark on the National Gallery, for which we will be forever grateful,” said Kaywin Feldman, the museum’s director, in a statement. Presenting some forty exhibitions during his tenure, Cooper was also responsible for acquiring more than 500 works for the museum—including its first paintings by Cecily Brown, Alex Katz and Yoshitomo Nara and its first sculptures by Henri Matisse and Kiki Smith. He also oversaw the acquisitions of numerous collections, more recently managing a donation of Joseph Cornell boxes and collages from collectors Robert and Aimee Lehrman.

Cooper’s curatorial role was made possible via a gift from the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation. The organization honors the legacy of the late arts patron Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon, who alongside her husband Paul Mellon gave more than 1,000 works to the National Gallery. In his new position, Cooper will steward the museum’s postwar American art and expand its collection of early modernism to include underrepresented artists, in addition to overseeing the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection. Molly Donovan, current curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery, will step in as acting head of the modern and contemporary art department.

Stefan Krause to head the Met’s Arms and Armor Department

Man in navy suit stands in front of desk and bookshelf
Stefan Krause. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Arms and Armor Department, which houses around 14,000 objects from varying cultures and historical eras, will soon receive a new curator in charge in the form of Stefan Krause. Currently the director of the Imperial Armoury at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, Krause will step into his new role this September.

“I am so excited to welcome Stefan Krause after an international search for the curator in charge of the Arms and Armor Department, which houses one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in some of the museum’s most beloved galleries, and which are about to undergo a significant refurbishment,” said Max Hollein, the Met’s director and CEO, in a statement. “He is a deeply respected colleague, and we look forward to supporting him, along with his entire team, as they embark on a re-thinking of their current installation and interpretation of the collection.”

Krause, who in 2010 and 2011 was a fellow at the Met’s Arms and Armor Department first joined the Kunsthistorisches Museum nearly two decades ago. Initially holding positions in its education department and as a research fellow and curator, he has directed its Imperial Armoury since 2020. Besides overseeing collection acquisitions and authoring publications, he has organized exhibitions like the 2022 “Iron Men: Fashion in Steel.”

Cultural Comings and Goings: The Whitney’s New Chief Curator and More