After an extensive nationwide search, Laumeier Sculpture Park has named Lauren Ross, previously the curator of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art and curator/director of arts programs at New York City High Line, as its new executive director. Ross will assume her new role at the St. Louis County park in August.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lauren Ross as our new executive director,” said Matt Harvey, Laumeier’s board president. “With her background as a curator, educator, strategic planner and fundraiser, Lauren will guide Laumeier Sculpture Park as we enter our fifth decade of nurturing the community through Art and Nature.”
Ross comes to St. Louis from Richmond, Virginia, where she served as the inaugural curator and a faculty member of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) from 2014 to 2017. As part of the senior leadership team at the ICA she helped conceptualize and establish the identity, infrastructure, and protocols necessary for a nascent institution, participated in staff recruitment and selection, planned exhibitions and programs, and organized a wide range of exhibitions, public programs, and visiting artists to build interest and awareness.
“I am thrilled to be leading Laumeier Sculpture Park, an institution with a 40-year history, into the next chapter of its existence,” Ross said. “With its impressive collection, stunning grounds, and wonderful facilities, Laumeier is uniquely positioned to explore the intersections between art, culture, nature, health, education, and public space. I look forward to exploring these possibilities in concert with artists, community partners, and visitors.”
Previously, Ross served as the Nancy E. Meinig Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa from 2011 to 2014 and the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Curator and Director of Arts Programs, for the Friends of the High Line in New York City from 2009 to 2011. Over the past two decades, she has curated numerous exhibitions and public art projects, and has published more than three dozen catalogs, essays, features and reviews on modern and contemporary art.
At Laumeier, Ross will be responsible for engaging diverse audiences and advancing the Park’s position as a leading cultural institution within the St. Louis region and nationally among outdoor sculpture parks. She will steward the Park’s facilities, sculpture grounds, and other resources, overseeing the art collection, exhibitions, educational programs and collaborative partnerships, as well as serving as the lead fundraiser responsible for cultivating donor relationships, securing financial grants, and seeking other revenue streams to strengthen Laumeier’s financial position and long-term sustainability. In addition, she will help forge a new vision of how Laumeier can play a significant role locally and nationally in advancing public debate and providing meaningful learning experiences and encounters in the area of the human culture-nature relationship.
Ross holds a bachelor‘s degree from Cornell University, a master of arts degree in the History of Art from Hunter College at the City University of New York, and worked towards a doctor of philosophy in the History of Art at the Graduate School and University Center at the City University of New York. She also completed a Certificate of Nonprofit Management at Duke University earlier this year.