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Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Names New Curator

Barbara O?Brien views a sculpture with Simmons students.
courtesy of Simmons College
Barbara O?Brien views a sculpture with Simmons students.

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art announced its new curator on July 30, 2009. Barbara O'Brien has worked in the arts for nearly two decades, mostly on the East Coast, but now she's returning to her Midwest roots. By Laura Spencer


Kansas City, MO – Barbara O'Brien grew up in a small town in northeast Kansas. Once a year, O'Brien says, her family would take a long bus ride to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

O'Brien earned undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Women's Studies from the University of Kansas and her MFA in photography from Rhode Island School of Design.

From 2002 to 2006, O'Brien was reviews coordinator and then editor-in-chief of New England Magazine, covering contemporary art in the region. From 2006 to 2008, she served as Assistant Professor of Art and Director of Trustman Art Gallery at Simmons College in Boston. Since 1990, she's curated nearly 50 exhibitions of contemporary art.

O'Brien replaces former Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art curator Christopher Cook, who began a new position on July 1, 2009 as executive director and curator at the Salina Art Center. O'Brien begins work at the Kemper in mid-September.

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