Victoria Noorthoorn. Director, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Years professionally involved in the contemporary art museum field: 28
Have you served on another board or organization similar to CIMAM? No
If so, where and how long have you served? CIMAM Board member, since 2019.
Short bio. Describe also your involvement with CIMAM and the museum community:
I am honoured to have directed the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Argentina, since 2013. Under my leadership, this public museum has undergone a programme of deep development. It has grown its budget and built a team of 130 museum professionals, doubled its exhibition space and held over 90 exhibitions, released over 50 bilingual publications and upscaled its education programmes to involve 7,000 teachers a year, while substantially expanding its accessibility and mental health programmes.
Before this, I worked for MoMA’s International Program and The Drawing Center, in New York, and for Malba, in Buenos Aires. Later, as an independent, I curated the Pontevedra (2006), Mercosul (2009) and Lyon (2011) biennales, and the 41st National Artists’ Salon in Cali (2008), as well as other international exhibitions. We at the Moderno, we have staged exhibitions of León Ferrari, Marta Minujín, Ana Gallardo, Tracey Rose, Zanele Muholi, Bernardo Ortiz, Delcy Morelos and Sergio De Loof, among many other artists, as well as group exhibitions such as A Tale of Two Worlds (2017–18), presented at both the Moderno and MMK.
When we were forced to close our doors in 2020, we quickly launched #MuseoModernoEnCasa as an archive of the present, a virtual space for sensitive reflection that sought to find answers through art amidst the uncertainty of today’s world. This new online programme reached over 8.3 million people that year, and over 6 million in 2021 and 2022. Since 2020, our museum has expanded its artistic participation, engaging with over 400 artists and intellectuals a year in a further response to the broad artistic and educational communities it serves.
Today, the Moderno is currently staging One Day on Earth (2022), a programme of 11 exhibitions that together narrate a holistic discourse around the urgent need to reflect on humanity’s present and its relationship with the planet. These exhibitions deal with the pain of the pandemic, the increasingly visible violence of the world, the need to eradicate all gestures of discrimination and embrace greater awareness of the imperative to care for our planet and respect differences - more certain of art's value towards building a better world.
I have been a member of CIMAM’s Board since November 2019. During this period, I first served on the Contents Committee, developing the 2020 Annual Conference in Łódź and Gdańsk, finally held in 2021. When the conference was first postponed, we Board members designed the series of Rapid Response Webinars, aimed at maintaining close connections amongst all CIMAM Members in these most challenging times. I have also served throughout on the Museum Watch Committee, where we have been able to advocate for key individual museum professionals and relevant institutions in crisis, such as the Museu MAR in Rio de Janeiro, the Ethnography Museum in La Paz or the ecosystem of public museums in Mexico or Venezuela, among other countries. Finally, I am proud to have accomplished a new, more equitable fee system for CIMAM membership, effective as of 2023.
Motivation Statement: How can you contribute to CIMAM's mission and strategic goals by being a Member of the Board? (i.e strategy, membership, fundraising, governance, network in strategic regions, availability, knowledge or skills in a specific area):
For the past 25 years, I have been dedicated to developing museum and curatorial practices. During this time, I have come to cherish the importance of museums as mirrors of society and true agents of change. Museums allow us to imagine alternative realities and futures and, as such, can have an everlasting impact on our young publics and the communities we serve. Advocating to preserve and protect the dynamism of modern and contemporary art museums as agents responding to the most diverse contexts and helping to shape them is, therefore, a crucial objective that should stand at the core of CIMAM’s mission and values.
Moreover, developing an institution from the South, in a country like Argentina, constantly marked by recurrent economic crisis, has meant working amidst adversity and continuous challenge, more so when one embraces a mandate to transform a public institution into a partner and equal of major global institutions. The conviction that everything is possible, and that love, hard work and determination shared with a great team can produce radical change, are the core beliefs that guide my work.
Therefore, after serving these three years as a Board Member throughout the pandemic and seeing the challenges posed to museums worldwide up close, during a second term I would wish to work closely with the future president to shape a strategic programme to steer CIMAM towards becoming a larger organization with additional tools to respond fast and effectively to its members’ needs and concerns amid the transformation museums are currently undergoing. As modern and contemporary art museums adapt to changing contexts and new social dynamics and educational needs, CIMAM needs to change with them, becoming a more dynamic body ready to embrace the future.
During this second term, I will continue to commit to serving on the Museum Watch Committee and to move forward with the work on advocacy and protection of best practices in museum governance and issues of ethics and equity in the worldwide museum ecosystem, especially in the protection of best practices as they affect individual museum professionals.
Finally, with the new membership fees already effective in 2023 (which I am proud to have proposed), I plan to attract a growing number of new members from Latin America, a region rich in its history of museum developments and practices. I also plan to work with fellow Board Members to further support patrons and young museum professionals from Latin America, ideally also expanding the offer of programmes for the younger generation of museum professionals.
Describe briefly the expectations of your involvement as a CIMAM Board member and how you envision CIMAM's priorities in the next years:
After these years on CIMAM’s Board, with the pandemic demanding we remain focused on the present, I look forward to turning to the future of our institutions. How can the most diverse museums from different contexts together construct a more equitable system to enable growth and development of the smaller or lesser-funded institutions? How can the dynamics between museums become more collegiate and collaborative, and less self-centred, to serve artists at large in more open, flexible and fluid ways, and so promote dialogue between the most diverse scenes in the world?
I say this as an Argentinian and Latin American museum professional working in dialogue with the world. In recent decades, major museums in Europe and North America have incorporated the need to be inclusive, open-minded and alert to what is happening in the rest of the world. This has generally been from a Northern perspective, however. In my view, a fair and honest global perspective cannot but be based on the conviction of the fundamental equality of different traditions. To become operational in the actual design of an institution it must have been lived and worked through, during a whole lifetime and a day-to-day career. In the point of view I propose, there are no major or minor artistic movements or developments. There are powerful artistic currents that have at times run parallel, at others crossed or merged: independent in their identities and interactions with their diverse realities; interdependent in their collaborations, conversations and debates. In this view of art history, the voices from Latin America, Africa or Asia are not there to complete or complement or tick the box of difference, but to shape an art – and a museum practice – both global and diverse, combative and democratic, in a fraternal equality that does not preclude rivalry.