CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - An art historian with significant experience as an arts administrator and consultant has been named the new director of the University of Illinois' Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, pending approval of the U. of I. Board of Trustees at its June 17 meeting in Chicago.
Kathleen Harleman (pronounced HAR-luh-mun), who has directed art museums in Washington and Florida and held various posts at academic and public museums in Massachusetts and in Ontario, Canada, will assume her new job at Illinois on Aug. 16. She succeeds Josef Helfenstein, who served as the museum's director from 2000-03.
"Kathleen's experience in leading both university and public museums is an excellent fit with the mission of the arts on this campus," said Kathleen Conlin, dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts at Illinois. "Her vibrant embrace of interdisciplinary work, her determination to involve new generations in the examination of visual arts, and her deep respect for collegial team-building make her an exciting colleague.
"She will be a superb addition to our already exemplary unit executive officers in the College of Fine and Applied Arts and will join us in envisioning the future for the arts at Illinois."
Harleman received a bachelor's degree in art history from Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt., in 1975, and a master's degree in art history from Johns Hopkins University in 1977. As an art history student at Johns Hopkins, she specialized in modern art and architecture and Italian Renaissance art and architecture. In 1981, she earned a master's in business administration from the University of Ottawa, Ontario.
She returned to Canada last September to serve as a consultant to the Canadian Centre for Architecture, an international research center and museum in Montreal. Prior to that, Harleman was executive director of the Bellevue Art Museum, which served the metropolitan Seattle area.
From 1998-2001, she was the director and chief executive officer of the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. There, she directed an ambitious schedule of exhibitions and educational programs and raised funds for a $3 million annual budget and capital project. She also oversaw a building expansion and the establishment of an innovative satellite art school in which elementary students received nine weeks of on-site instruction. The
state-approved curricula were linked directly to the museum's exhibitions and collections.
Harleman's background also includes serving as acting director, associate director and director of cultural and academic programs at Wellesley College's Davis Museum and Cultural Center, from 1994-98. She also was a lecturer in Wellesley's department of art.
Prior to that, Harleman worked in various capacities as a museum professional at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, and at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa.
Richard Herman, the interim chancellor of the Urbana campus, said Harleman's extensive background and experience integrating exhibition demands, educational and public-engagement programming in a museum setting makes her a good match for the job at Illinois.
"Over the past few years, the Krannert Art Museum, by exploring new forms, new kinds of collaborations and new paths to engagement with the university and the community, has come to enjoy a higher level of prominence," Herman said. "Kathleen Harleman is perhaps uniquely equipped to continue and intensify these directions. With her guidance, we believe that the KAM will reach the potential that we are confident it can achieve."