For Immediate Release
Images available upon request
Contact: Laura Ross
Public Relations Manager
Speed Art Museum
LOUISVILLE, KY (January 18, 2017) - The Speed Art Museum announced today that Erika Holmquist-Wall will become Chief Curator on January 30, succeeding Scott Erbes, who held the title since 2013. Erbes wishes to return to his first love at the Speed, the museum’s extensive Kentucky collection and its outstanding decorative arts and design collections, in his capacity as Curator of Decorative Arts and Design. Erbes helped guide the reinstallation and design of the new Speed Art Museum in 2016, following three years of closure for a $60 million expansion and renovation.
“When I arrived at the Speed in 2013, the Speed was closed, offices were in Nulu downtown, the collection was in storage and there was no chief curator,” said Speed Art Museum CEO, Ghislain d’Humieres. “Within a couple of weeks, I realized Scott Erbes was the leader we needed to help manage and create the transition to the new Speed. His great passion is curating, but he reluctantly agreed to become chief curator. He is extremely reliable, dedicated to the institution, hard-working and organized.”
At the time, Erbes took on the task of transitioning the small downtown temporary gallery space into “Local Speed”, with ongoing exhibitions throughout the museum’s closure; he hired three of the Speed’s five curators (including Erika Holmquist-Wall); and he managed the layout, interpretation, and reinstallation of the Speed collection in the museum’s new and renovated galleries.
Erbes, who has been with the Speed since 1999, relished the excitement of the reinstallation and reopening, but is ready to return to his curatorial roots. “I’m extremely honored to have been able to assemble such an outstanding team of curators, registrars, and art preparators and work with them to create the new Speed. I am so proud of what we accomplished: new spaces like our Kentucky gallery and galleries for contemporary art, beautiful renovations of existing galleries, and the launch of the new Speed Cinema,” he said. “We managed to honor the legacy of Mrs. Speed, and take her galleries and blend them with the new Speed’s construction with fabulous results. I know this dynamic group will continue to create great exhibitions and innovative film programs in the years ahead, not to mention securing exciting acquisitions to share with our visitors.”
“Scott Erbes has been an outstanding chief curator, a superb manager, and a very calm, steady leader for our curatorial team,” said Richard Clay, Speed Collection Committee Chair and former Chair, Speed Board of Trustees. “Scott's greatest love is decorative arts, and he is primarily responsible for the growth of the Speed's magnificent Kentucky collection. He is first and foremost a scholar and this leadership change will give him more time to focus on his research and writing.”
“I could not have reopened the museum on time and on budget without his support,” added d’Humieres. “We had an agreement that eventually he wanted to return to curating the decorative arts collections as well as focusing on 21st century design. He can now dedicate himself to that.”
Erika Holmquist-Wall, who has worked as the Mary and Barry Bingham, Sr., Curator of European and American Painting and Sculpture at the Speed since 2014, came to Louisville from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. “I’m brimming over with ideas for how we can better share the collection and encourage the public to be more involved,” said Holmquist-Wall. “I have traditional museum experience, but I’m also looking toward the future. We need to share our collection on not just a physical level, but a digital level as well. That means reaching out via the internet, podcasts, social media and more. We have all the opportunity and potential in the world to be doing something great with our collection.”
She will continue to work alongside Erbes and the Speed’s curatorial team to maintain the forward momentum from the Speed’s successful reopening in March 2016. “Erika’s extensive experience in a major institution, plus her spirit of teamwork and relationship with collectors is phenomenal,” said d’Humieres.
“Erika Holmquist-Wall brings passion to the collection with a marvelous eye, great imagination, and scholarly research of the highest quality,” added Clay. “People love to be around her. She is one of the best teachers I've ever known, and I have watched her teach young children, middle and high schoolers, young adults, and older people. She can make a painting or a piece of sculpture come alive for anyone from the most sophisticated collector to someone who is just beginning to embark on a love for art. I am sure that Erika will help us continue to grow the collection, bring in new collectors and supporters, and help us continue to fulfill our mission of enriching lives through the magic of great works of art.”
Holmquist-Wall will work on future exhibitions, conservation, restoration and acquisitions for the Speed, as she manages the Museum’s curatorial team. “It is incredibly gratifying to get people excited about art and create “aha!” moments for them,” she said. “Art serves the purpose of enhancing our lives, and the Speed is perfectly positioned to start sharing more of it, whether it’s through our permanent collection or traveling exhibitions.”
About Erika Holmquist-Wall
Erika Holmquist-Wall, new Chief Curator at the Speed Art Museum, was previously the Mary and Barry Bingham, Sr., Curator of European and American Painting and Sculpture for the museum. Holmquist-Wall joined the Speed in 2014 and helped launch the renovated and expanded Speed Art Museum, focusing on the Speed’s well-respected collection of European and American painting and sculpture.
Erika Holmquist-Wall joined the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2000 as a Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Paintings and Modern Sculpture. In 2007, she was promoted to Assistant Curator of Paintings. In addition, she served as the museum's Provenance Specialist, where she oversaw all research related to the ownership and acquisition of the museum's collections. During her tenure, Holmquist-Wall curated several exhibitions for the MIA, including The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy in 2011, Alexander Roslin and the Comtesse Pignatelli in 2008, A Mirror of Nature: Nordic Landscape Painting, 1840-1910, and a suite of four dossier exhibitions on Henri Matisse that supplemented her curatorial venture, Matisse: Masterworks from the Baltimore Museum of Art. She is a strong advocate for collections preservation, creating two popular exhibitions centered around the public restoration of major paintings by Guercino in 2004 and Max Beckmann in 2013.
Holmquist-Wall is a specialist in 19th and 20th-century Nordic art and design. In addition, she has established an international reputation as one of a handful of advanced specialists in the field of provenance research, with an emphasis on World War II-era spoliation issues.
A native of Iowa, Erika received her BA in the History of Art and Classics from the College of Saint Catherine and her MA in Art History from the University of St. Thomas.
About Scott Erbes
Scott joined the Speed Art Museum in 1999, becoming the museum’s first Curator of Decorative Arts and Design and later, in 2013, was named Chief Curator. He was instrumental in overseeing the re-opening of the Speed Art Museum following its three-year, $60 million closure for renovation and expansion. He built a core curatorial team and managed all exhibitions throughout the opening year (2016.) Other notable exhibitions include Wonderland Museum: Hidden Treasures from the Speed’s Collection (2016), The Light Within: Glass Sculpture from Louisville Collections (2003) English Silver in the Age of Matthew Boulton: The James C. Codell, Jr., Collection (2009), Modern in the Making: Design 1900-2000 (2010) and Quilts from Kentucky and Beyond: The Bingham-Miller Family Collection (2011).
Erbes’ Kentucky-oriented work includes the development and launch of the Kentucky Online Arts Resource (www.koar.org), an online image database devoted to Kentucky’s artistic heritage. He was project director for the 2007 exhibitions, From Folk to Modern: Kentucky Art Pottery, 1900-1950 and For Safekeeping: The Kentucky Sugar Chest, 1790-1850 and curated the 2011 exhibition, Kentucky Antiques from the Noe Collection: A Gift to the Commonwealth.
Outside the Speed, Scott has served as a pro bono restoration consultant for a number of Kentucky historic house museums, including Farmington, the Farnsley-Moremen House, and Liberty Hall. He has also served on the advisory board of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and on the board of the Kentucky Museum and Heritage Alliance.
A look at the new Speed Art Museum
The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum with a collection that spans 6,000 years of human creativity and brings art from around the world to all. An independent museum located on the campus of the University of Louisville, the Speed will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2017 with a focus on engaging exhibitions, outreach initiatives, workshops, tours, events and art-related school programs.
The new 62,500 sq. ft. North Building at the Speed, which reopened in 2016 following a 3-year, $60 million renovation and expansion, is largely transparent and creates one of the finest experiential art museums in the country. It doubles the museum’s overall square footage and nearly triples the gallery space from the existing wing.
The expansion creates a new state-of-the-art space for larger special exhibitions, contemporary art galleries, a Kentucky gallery, a family education and welcome center, cinema, indoor/outdoor café, museum store, and a multifunctional Grand Hall for performances, lectures and entertaining. Additionally, the Elizabeth P. and Frederick K. Cressman Art Park and public piazza features creative artworks created specifically for the Speed Museum, that engage University of Louisville students and museum visitors alike.
The total expansion effort encompasses approximately 220,000 sq. ft., including 79,600 sq. ft. of renovation, 75,000 sq. ft. of new construction, and 135,000 sq. ft. of landscape improvements. Internationally renowned museum designer Kulapat Yantrasast of Los Angeles-based wHY created the design in association with K. Norman Berry Associates of Louisville.
Thanks to a gift of $1 million from the Brown-Forman Corporation, the Speed offers free Sunday admission until 2021. Louisville philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed founded the Speed Art Museum in 1925 with a belief in the power of art to change people’s lives.
For more information, visit www.speedmuseum.org
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