TMA’s Halona Norton-Westbrook to lead Honolulu Museum of Art
The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) announces that Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Halona Norton-Westbrook has been named the director of the Honolulu Museum of Art in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her last day at TMA will be Dec. 5, 2019. She begins her new post in Honolulu Jan. 6, 2020. Diane C. Wright, the Museum’s senior curator of glass and decorative arts, will serve as interim director of curatorial affairs while a search is conducted for Norton-Westbrook’s replacement.
In her current role as Director of Curatorial Affairs, Norton-Westbrook leads the Museum's curatorial initiatives and has shepherded the 2020 gallery plan in concert with TMA’s Master Site Plan. In addition, Norton-Westbrook provides strategic direction to the curatorial, exhibitions, conservation and publication teams, and has primary curatorial responsibility for the Museum’s extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. She has been responsible for developing innovative audience-centric programs, which has resulted in notable growth in millennial and diverse visitorship.
Norton-Westbrook has also served a key role in the development of TMA’s Master Site Plan, designed by Beyer, Blinder, Belle, which will revitalize the institution and its campus over the next 20 years. From 2016 to 2018, Norton-Westbrook held the titles of director of collections and associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum. Norton-Westbrook began her tenure at TMA as the Andrew W. Mellon Leadership Fellow in 2013 and has served as a member of the Museum’s executive team since then. Inaugurated in 2012, the fellowship, now called the Brian P. Kennedy Leadership Fellowship, is designed to train the next generation of museum leaders.
“The Toledo Museum of Art has been enormously influential in my museum career trajectory, offering priceless guidance and grounding in museum practices and an extraordinary array of professional opportunities,” said Norton-Westbrook. “As I move on to the directorship in Honolulu, I look forward to leveraging these experiences and fostering engaging exhibition, education and outreach programs for a new set of audiences and communities.”
“Halona is now the second Museum fellow to go on to become a director, with Adam Levine the first following his appointment at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. The ascribed purpose of the fellowship, despite its relative newness, is working as designed to train future leaders in the museum world,” said TMA Interim Director John Stanley. “It has been a great honor to work with Halona and we couldn’t be prouder of or more happy for her. Honolulu is lucky to have her.”
“It has been a pleasure working with Halona Norton-Westbrook over these many years, and we are grateful for her enormous contributions to the Museum,” said Cynthia B. Thompson, Chair of the TMA Board.
During her time at TMA, Norton-Westbrook co-led a $2.25 million renovation and reinstallation project of 15,000 square feet of gallery space in the Museum’s main building; inaugurated the Museum’s popular EAR/EYE concert and discussion series; and helped initiate TMA’s community block parties that now draw 10,000 visitors annually.
In her curatorial role, Norton-Westbrook has expanded the Museum’s modern and contemporary holdings through numerous significant acquisitions, including works by Alice Neel, Marie Watt, Diana Al Hadid, David Hockney, Jules Olitski, Judit Reigl, Nam June Paik, Gajin Fujita, Agus Suwage, Elias Sime, Jaume Plensa, Wendy Red Star, Alison Saar and Titus Kaphar.
Among the many exhibitions Norton-Westbrook curated and co-curated at TMA are Playtime, a highly attended, interactive exhibition; Speaking Visual, which employed masterworks across the collection to activate the Museum’s visual literacy curriculum; “Everything is Rhythm:” Mid-Century Art & Music; Global Conversations: Art in Dialogue; Expanded Views: Native American Art in Focus; Mel Chin: Two Me; Sights & Sounds: Art, Nature, and the Senses; and Rebecca Louise Law: Community.
Norton-Westbrook holds a Ph.D. in museology and art history from the University of Manchester, England; M.A. in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, England; and B.A. in American history and studio art from Mills College in Oakland, California. In addition, she was in the class of 2018 at the Getty Leadership Institute’s Executive Education for Museum Leaders.
The Honolulu Museum of Art, founded in 1927, is a cultural hub for the city, hosting a highly regarded collection of more than 50,000 objects that span 5,000 years and an active exhibitions, programs, education and events calendar.
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