Q&A: Kaywin Feldman 

Kaywin Feldman was the youngest director ever hired to run the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Beginning January 2nd, Feldman will become the first female director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, one of the 10 largest museums in the country.

Though she's not an artist herself, Feldman's always been passionate about art. That led to studying art history and museum management at the University of London, where she received her master's degree.

As director of the Brooks, Feldman was responsible for bringing in exhibits that would resonate with Memphis' culturally diverse demographic. She also managed the museum's staff, dealt with the business side of running the museum, and acquired pieces for the Brooks' permanent collection. She'll have similar duties at the Minneapolis Institute, but considering that the Brooks is much smaller than the Minneapolis museum, she'll have her work cut out for her. — Bianca Phillips

Flyer: What do you anticipate your biggest challenges will be at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts (MIA)?

Feldman: I'll be running a much larger institution. Our staff at the Brooks is about 50, and the staff at MIA is 300. Our budget's $5 million. Their budget's $25 million. We have a 90,000-square-foot building. They have a 400,000-square-foot building. Their collection is 10 times our size.

Any challenges with being the first female director?

I think everyone's pretty excited to have a female director, so I don't think there'll be any problems there.

As the Brooks' youngest director, did you ever face any age discrimination?

I certainly wouldn't call it discrimination, but there was definitely a period of skepticism. There's always a period of that with any new director, but I think it was a little stronger given my age.

How did you decide which exhibits to bring to Memphis?

Because the Brooks shows a little bit of everything, we try to balance out an old masters exhibition with a contemporary art exhibition. We're very committed to being an inclusive art museum by representing work by other cultures and African-American artists. We have to make sure every exhibition here balances those things.

What was your favorite exhibition at the Brooks?

The exhibition we brought in last fall, which was "Masterpieces from the Fitzwilliam Collection." It was an English private collection that started in the 17th century, so it included Anthony van Dyck, George Stubbs, and Joshua Reynolds.

Do your preferences affect what exhibits you show?

No, they really don't. We have to think so much about what will bring people into the museum, and that's not always necessarily what I like.

Before you began at the brooks, the museum was often criticized for attracting a mostly white audience. Do you feel like you got a more culturally diverse group into the museum?

It's certainly been a priority for our organization since the day I arrived. I do think we've made a difference. We've brought in exhibitions that reflect the community. We've brought significant numbers of works of art by African Americans to the collection. We've increased our African-American programming. We've seen results in attendance, as well as membership of the museum.

Which acquisitions for the Brooks' permanent collection are you most proud of?

We bought a Dutch still-life painting from the 17th century by an artist named Roelof Koets. That's a very fine Dutch picture. I'm very proud of the Nam June Paik sculpture in the rotunda. In general, I'm pleased with the way we've added to the collection of work by African-American artists and the photography collection.

Who will head up the Brooks in the interim?

Al Lyons. He's on the board of trustees. It usually takes a year from the time the director announces they're leaving before a new person arrives.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Makers’ Space

      New Crosstown Arts facility is like a gym for artists.
    • Green Decade

      Clean Memphis and Project Green Fork celebrate 10 years.


Hungry Memphis

Zopita's on the Square to open Nov. 19

We Saw You

Indie Film Fest, Grilled Cheese Fest, Adapt-A-Door and more!

Hungry Memphis

Little Italy Opening Downtown

News Blog

Seven Vie for Vacant District 1 Council Seat

News Blog

Group of White Women Test Mall’s No Hoodie Policy

Hungry Memphis

The Nine Now Open

Fly On The Wall Blog

What’s Kids in the Hall Co-Founder Kevin McDonald Doing in Memphis?

Hungry Memphis

Gordon Ramsay's in Memphis to Save a Restaurant!

News Blog

TVA CEO Set to Retire in April

News Blog

Leaders Work to Revamp Public Art Guidelines


More by Bianca Phillips

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation