Cara McCarty Joins Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum as Curatorial Director
Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Cara McCarty as curatorial director, effective July 10, 2007. In this role, McCarty will direct the museum’s curatorial vision, oversee its four curatorial departments, plan for collections management and acquisitions, and lead exhibition planning.
“McCarty brings remarkable leadership, scholarship and curatorial prowess to the position,” said Director Paul Warwick Thompson. “I know she will successfully execute and fulfill Cooper-Hewitt’s mission to advance the public understanding of design through the growth of the museum’s 250,000 object collection and exhibition programming.”
A distinguished expert in the field of architecture, design and decorative arts, McCarty has served as a curator, lecturer and author for more than 20 years. Since 1992, McCarty was the curator and head of the department of decorative arts and design at the Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, where she established the museum’s 20th-and 21st-century design collection, while also strengthening holdings from the Renaissance to the present day; acquired more than 400 works for the collection; and organized major design exhibitions. Recent exhibitions curated by McCarty include “Tadao Ando: Architect;” “Structure and Surface: Contemporary Japanese Textiles” (co-curated with Matilda McQuaid); “Masks: Faces of Culture;” “Currents 69: Gaetano Pesce;” and “Italian Design from the Collection.” Currently, McCarty is actively involved in plans for the Saint Louis Art Museum’s forthcoming expansion.
Prior to her tenure at the Saint Louis Art Museum, McCarty held several curatorial positions over a decade-long period in the department of architecture and design at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. At MoMA, McCarty conceived and curated numerous exhibitions and wrote the accompanying publications, including “Modern Masks and Helmets,” “Information Art: Diagramming Microchips,” “Designs for Independent Living” and “Mario Bellini: Designer.”
“McCarty will be a wonderful asset to the museum’s stellar roster of curatorial experts and her impressive background will surely reinforce and advance Cooper-Hewitt’s position as the preeminent authority on the study of design in the United States,” said trustee Elizabeth Ainslie.
“As chair of the exhibitions committee, I’m looking forward to working with McCarty in the development of the museum’s future exhibition programming,” said trustee Esme Usdan.
Upon her appointment, McCarty commented, “I’m thrilled to join the museum at such a pivotal moment in its history. This is an exciting time for the field of design and I am eager to contribute to Cooper-Hewitt’s long-standing strength and achievements in exhibitions, acquisitions and publications.”
A frequent author and lecturer, McCarty has written several books and curated nearly 30 exhibitions over her career. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from Stanford University, and did graduate studies in art history at Hunter College, New York. From 2004 to 2005, McCarty was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where she researched the role of museums in design education.