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The Kemper Museum Of Contemporary Art Has A New Director

courtesy Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art announced Friday that Sean O'Harrow has been selected as the new executive director.

The museum, founded by banker and philanthropist R. Crosby Kemper, Jr. and Mary "Bebe" Hunt, opened in October 1994. Mary Kemper Wolf, the founders' daughter, chairs the museum's board of trustees.

"At this point in our history," Wolf said in a release, "it was critical to bring in an Executive Director with solid experience, who embraces artists, staff, community and fundraising responsibilities alike."

O'Harrow will move to Kansas City from Honolulu, where he is the director of the Honolulu Museum of Art. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, O'Harrow was "the museum's first top administrator in its 90-year history to have grown up in the islands." 

O'Harrow, born in Paris, was raised in Honolulu; one of his parents is from the Midwest, the other from Vietnam.

Previously, O'Harrow served as the director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art, executive director of the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, and a fellow at St. Catharine's College at the University of Cambridge in England. He has a bachelor's in art history from Harvard University and a PhD in art history from Cambridge.

O'Harrow said he feels "most fortunate and honored" to be chosen as executive director of the Kemper Museum. 

"The world is dynamic, diverse, interconnected, and ever-changing," O'Harrow said in a statement, "and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is precisely the right institution to lead Kansas City and the nation forward in exploring how contemporary art can foster understanding of relevant issues and the world around us for another exciting twenty-five years and beyond." 

O'Harrow starts his new job Feb. 11.

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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