Meet Our New Curator, Megan Arney Johnston

In our most recent member newsletter, we announced the addition of Megan Arney Johnston, our new director of curatorial affairs and interpretation, to the Museum staff. After a couple years without a full-time curator, we’re overjoyed to be fulfilling a vital responsibility to our audience and the community we serve. Moreover, we’re overjoyed to have Megan join our staff. She is energetic and passionate about art and museums, and she will bring an impressive set of talents and experiences from a number of institutions, big and small, across two continents.

Some brief background. Megan was born in Stillwater, Minn. After earning a bachelor’s in art history from the University of Minnesota, she moved to New York and produced publications for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She then served as curator at the Leadwhite Gallery in Dublin, Ireland, and was art director and lead curator at the Millennium Court Arts Centre in Portadown, Northern Ireland, from 2003 to 2009. Most recently, Johnston served as director and lead curator at the LaGrange Art Museum in LaGrange, Ga. She holds a master’s degree in visual culture studies from the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She will complete a doctorate on socially engaged curatorial practice through the University of Ulster in 2012.

Interactive sound installation at Millennium Court Arts Center, Portadown Northern Ireland. The exhibition was curated by Megan Arney Johnston.

It’s this aspect of Megan’s curatorial approach – socially engaged practice – that has us the most excited for her arrival. This involves opening “avenues of entry” into the Museum and our exhibitions through innovative installations, unexpected collaborations, talks, social media platforms, etc., avenues that dissolve the conventional idea of a museum as a white cube.

Moreover, Megan sees her role as an advocate for the public and for artists inside the museum, not the other way around. She will encourage projects from artists that promote dialogue around local issues, collaborative inputs, communal exchanges, and sociopolitical and historical nuances while utilizing new social networks and technologies. Megan also aligns herself with the “Slow Movement,” embracing life, health, the environment, and local connectivity. This is an exciting approach and we’re eager to see what she does when she begins her work here in just a couple weeks.

On top of her work and her focus, though, is a bright individual who is excited to join the Fargo-Moorhead arts community and community as a whole. Megan is funny and clever, and she has an outstanding attitude toward life, family, and community as well as art. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to meet her and her family at a public welcome September 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Museum. The event is free. We’re also putting Megan to work early – she’ll be joining us on our public art bike ride during the Bike Jamboree on August 18 at 7:30 p.m. to provide interpretation along the way.