Sally Tallant

Sally Tallant, Director, The Queens Museum, New York, USA

Titled The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything? the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference took place 15-17 November in Sydney hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Day 3: Sunday 17 November
Beyond the Walls



At a time when we are facing global political uncertainties, a growing refugee crisis, and a deepening understanding of climate change; there is a need to develop institutions that are open, inclusive and empathic. We need porous institutions that are both places where art and artists can find space and that are defined and created together with their communities. We need our galleries, museums to be unwavering in their commitment to maintaining spaces where human rights, diversity of option and creativity can thrive.

This presentation draws on the experience of working through a situated approach to curatorial practice that takes place and context as starting points. I will expand upon the experience of developing integrated programs of activity that reject traditional divisions and departmental ways of working at Serpentine Gallery, London and whilst I was Director of Liverpool Biennial and present models of working outside, inside and inside out to create a wide range of connections between artists, people and place. Liverpool Biennial is underpinned by education and research and operates year round developing temporary and permanent commissions in partnership with cultural organizations and the City and Region and this embedded strategic approach offers museums and galleries a model of being rooted through partnership.

I have recently taken up the role of Director of the Queens Museum which is located in the most diverse Borough of New York and is the most diverse county in the United States. Over 170 languages are spoken in our schools. The Museum has long understood the need to work with our neighbors to engage critically in issues of neighborhood development in our schools, parks, streets, and in precious recreational spaces. Over the past decade, the Museum has been working to ensure that community residents are involved in the envisioning, production, programming, and maintenance of public spaces and amenities.

Queens Museum is a community museum and I will present what we are learning from the outside in, the inside out and how we are thinking in situ.


Sally Tallant is the President and Executive Director of the Queens Museum, New York. She was previously the Director of Liverpool Biennial from 2011-2019.

From 2001-2011 she was Head of Programs at the Serpentine Gallery, London where she was responsible for the development and delivery of an integrated program of Exhibitions, Architecture, Education and Public Programs.

She has curated exhibitions in a wide range of contexts including galleries, museums, public spaces and non-arts contexts. She is a regular contributor to conferences nationally and internationally.

She is Vice President of the International Biennial Association and a Commissioner for the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice. In 2018 she was awarded an OBE for services to the Arts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.