The Art Institute of Chicago announces that Zoë Ryan has been named the Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design, effective July 1, 2011 . Ryan’s career at the Art Institute began in 2006 when she was chosen as the first Neville Bryan Curator of Design in the museum’s Department of Architecture and Design, and she has remained with the department since, becoming Interim Chair in July 2010 after the departure of curator Joseph Rosa. Among Ryan’s first responsibilities will be finding her replacement as the Neville Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design, a position that will focus on contemporary architecture, and completing the preparation for the Art Institute’s major fall exhibition devoted to the Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg.
Remarking on the appointment, Jim Cuno, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the museum, said: “Zoë is internationally recognized for her work within the fields of architecture and design, and, since assuming the position of Interim Chair, she has shown real leadership of the department. She brings to the position a wealth of experience, extensive relationships in the worlds of architecture and design, and an enthusiasm and tenacity for continually rethinking the presentation and collection of architecture and design within the museum to effect maximum engagement and to make clear the importance of these disciplines to daily life. I am thrilled that Zoë has agreed to accept this signal position at the museum.”
Ryan came to the Art Institute five years ago from her position as Senior Curator at New York’s Van Alen Institute, an independent not-for-profit architectural organization dedicated to promoting inquiry into the processes that shape the design of public spaces. While at the Van Alen, Ryan organized numerous exhibitions and conferences–including The Good Life: New Public Spaces for Recreation; VARIABLE CITY: Fox Square; OPEN: New Designs for Public Space; Renewing, Rebuilding, Remembering; and The Politics of Design: Competitions for Public Projects–and was also the editor of the Van Alen Report. Prior to joining the Van Alen, she served as a curatorial assistant at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Ryan has proven to be a prolific author. Over the years she has served as a contributing editor at Blueprint (London) and Surface (New York and San Francisco), and she was the New York correspondent for Monument magazine (Australia). She has published many articles for magazines and journals that include The Architect’s Newspaper, Contemporary, RIBA, Frame, and Log. Among her many exhibition catalogues and books are Building With Water: Concepts, Typology, Design (2010); Matali Crasset: Poetic Logic (2008); Coney Island: The Parachute Pavilion Competition (2007); and The Good Life: New Public Spaces for Recreation (2006). In addition, she has contributed essays to publications and monographs on designers and artists, including Greg Lynn, Arik Levy, Ron Gilad, Ineke Hans, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Lucy Orta, and Matali Crasset.
Since coming to the Art Institute in 2006, Ryan has curated several exhibitions and authored accompanying exhibition catalogues: Graphic Thought Facility: Resourceful Design (2008); Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design (2009); and, with Joseph Rosa, Hyperlinks: Architecture and Design (2010). She also contributed wallpaper installations for the museum by the design firms Timorous Beasties and 2×4. With Rosa, she conceived the inaugural installations of the Architecture and Design galleries in the Modern Wing, which opened in 2009. And as the Neville Bryan Curator of Design, Ryan has rapidly built the contemporary design collection of the Art Institute by spearheading more than 500 acquisitions, including One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO Laptop (2007) designed by a team including Yves Béhar, Bret Recor, and Nicholas Negroponte; Tokujin Yoshioka’s Honey-Pop Armchair (2001); Barack Obama’s Campaign Logo and Identity System ’08 (2006), designed by Sol Sender; Cloud (Nuage) Modules (2004) by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec; and an extensive range of textile designs manufactured by New York-based Maharam that includes work by Tord Boontje, Sarah Morris, Paul Smith, Alexander Girard, Charles and Ray Eames, and Giò Ponti.