Scholars, artists, curators, activists, local historians and members of the public will convene at Syracuse University Oct. 6-7 to discuss the rightful place of monuments in our society and the increasing complexity they represent today in terms of their cultural,…
Maika Pollack Named Executive Director and Chief Curator of Syracuse University Art Museum
Art historian, critic and curator Maika Pollack will join Syracuse University this fall as executive director and chief curator of the Syracuse University Art Museum.
“Maika Pollack brings the talent and vision to support and expand the important role that Syracuse University Art Museum plays in campus life and in the greater Syracuse community. I look forward to working with her and watching the museum flourish under her leadership,” says Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Gretchen Ritter.
In her new role, Pollack will report to Marcelle Haddix, associate provost for strategic initiatives. Haddix’s portfolio includes, among other things, all University-wide arts and humanities affiliates and programs.
“We are excited to welcome Maika to campus this fall,” Haddix says. “She is an experienced, collaborative leader and talented arts professional whose contributions to the museum and the University will greatly benefit our students, faculty and staff.”
Pollack, who grew up in Central New York, comes to Syracuse from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Honolulu, where she is the director and chief curator at John Young Museum of Art and University Galleries. She says she is looking forward to joining the Syracuse University community and returning to her native New York State.
“I am honored to take this role,” Pollack says. “Syracuse University has a long history of graduates who are enormously influential in the arts, from Clement Greenberg and Sol LeWitt to LaToya Ruby Frazier. I’m excited to help make this unique history more visible through exhibitions and publications, and to work with the museum’s talented staff and leadership.”
At the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Honolulu, she established a founding endowment of nearly half a million dollars, created an imprint with nationally reviewed publications and curated shows with such artists as Ken Okiishi, Tadashi Sato, Stephanie Syjuco, Hadi Fallahpisheh, David Salle and Tetsuo Ochikubo and others.
She expanded diversity in programming and put together exhibitions lauded in local and national media, resulting in an attendance of almost 40,000 unique visitors in 2022-2023. She also oversaw the creation of a scholarly study room, the rehousing of the museum’s permanent collection, the transition to an updated collections management system and renovations to improve facilities.
Prior to Honolulu, Pollack was co-founder and director of Southfirst, a contemporary art gallery in Brooklyn that presented experimental exhibitions for almost two decades, where her curated shows were reviewed by major publications. Previously, Pollack worked as the curatorial assistant to the chief curator at PS1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens, where in 2000 she was part of the original curatorial team for the highly popular “Warm Up” summer performance series. Additionally, she founded the imprint Object Relations. Her writing on contemporary art and culture has been widely published. She was the museum exhibition critic for the New York Observer from 2011 to 2015.
Pollack earned Ph.D. and master’s degrees in the history of art and architecture at Princeton University and an A.B. in art history and social studies at Harvard University. She has taught art history and curatorial studies at Sarah Lawrence College, Pratt University, New York University, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Princeton. Her research focuses on the history of photography, late 19th-century European art, feminist art, American art of the 1960s and 70s, contemporary art and postcolonial studies.