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Samantha Topol joins the Block Museum to support engagement and donor relations

The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University is pleased to announce the appointment of Samantha Topol as Manager of Grants and Donor Engagement. In addition to building the museum’s relationships with foundations, Topol will work in close collaboration with the museum’s new engagement department, designing programs that broaden the museum’s network and activate its current base of supporters. This newly-defined role reflects The Block Museum’s expanded vision of museum engagement and interest in building greater connection among all of its stakeholders.

Topol brings to the Block Museum a rich and diverse skill set, including 10 years as a writer, editor and programmer, as well as significant fundraising and project management expertise. Recently, for example, Topol developed and directed the summer 2013 programs for Spontaneous Interventions at the Chicago Cultural Center, and coordinated the exhibition’s Chicago reinstallation after its debut in Venice, where it was the official US representation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennial. Her contributions as a writer and editor in the field include essays on contemporary art, architecture and design in Theorizing Visual Studies, Art Lies, The Believer, and The Architect’s Newspaper, as well as editorial management of numerous exhibition catalogues and the website redesign of the internationally recognized magazine, Domus. A dual degree holder from the School of the Art Institute, Topol lends an in-depth knowledge of the Chicago area arts and cultural landscape to this position, integrated with an investment in the role of institutions in creating a vibrant arts ecology in the city. [Read the entire story here]

Block Names First Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs

Curator Dr. Kathleen Bickford Berzock will join the Block Museum from the Art Institute of Chicago

Kathleen Bickford BerzockThe Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University is pleased to announce that Dr. Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Curator of African Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, has accepted the position of Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs.

Dr. Berzock will assume her new role at the Block on January 20, 2014. Dr. Berzock will play a leading role in making the Block a dynamic site for exhibitions that look broadly at the visual arts across cultures and time periods and that draw on the unique resources of Northwestern University, including its collections, faculty, and students.

Berzock says she is excited to be joining the Block Museum and Northwestern University. “The Block Museum is poised to play a major role as an ambassador for groundbreaking research and as a laboratory for the innovative work of its faculty and students. I bring the skills of an experienced museum professional and as an Africanist art historian to my new role at the Block, coupled with an openness to multiple perspectives and diverse voices that will enrich the Block’s approach to presenting art from around the world.”  [Read the entire story here]

Block Names Associate Director of Engagement and Curator of Public Practice 

Bielak new Associate Director of EngagementThe Block Museum has appointed Susy Bielak its first Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice.

Bielak, a practicing artist who most recently served as Associate Director of Public and Interpretive Programs at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, will develop interdisciplinary programming that connects the Block’s art exhibitions, permanent collection, and online endeavors to the world beyond the museum. Bielak will also lead initiatives engaging the Block as a teaching museum and host for cross-disciplinary and civic dialogue—furthering the Block’s mission to use art as a springboard for exploring issues and ideas.

Bielak will draw upon her extensive experience as a university educator and arts administrator as she forges innovative collaborations both within and outside Northwestern. In addition, she will oversee the Block’s communication strategies and enhance its use of social media to encourage audience participation.

“Susy brings a breadth of experience in engaging diverse audiences,” said Lisa Graziose Corrin, the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director. “Her appointment reflects the Block Museum’s commitment to bringing artists, the Northwestern community, and the public together in a meaningful dialogue.” [Read the entire story here]


What is Curation Now? Block Director Talks with the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune interviews Lisa Graziose Corrin, the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director, about what it means to be a curator.  [Read the article]

Block Cinema Director in New City’s Film 50

Mimi Brody, the Block’s Pick-Laudati Curator of Film and Director of Block Cinema, makes the list of Chicago’s “screen gems.” [Read the article]