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The Des Moines Art Center.
The Des Moines Art Center.

Kelly Baum to Lead Des Moines Art Center

The Des Moines Art Center has announced Kelly Baum as its new director, effective this May. Baum arrives to Des Moines from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she was Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art. She takes the reins from Jeff Fleming, who is retiring after twenty-five years in the role.

Baum had been at the Met for eight years before accepting the directorship of the Iowa institution. She previously worked as a curator of modern and contemporary art at Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey, and the Blanton Museum of Art, Houston. At the Met and at the Princeton Museum, Baum worked to diversify collections to include work by women and by people of color. Baum was a 2018 fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership; she holds a Ph.D. and an MA in art history from the University of Delaware.

“As the Art Center celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary year and the remarkable tenure of retiring director Jeff Fleming, the trustees and staff are excited to partner with Dr. Kelly Baum as we look forward to the next seventy-five years,” said board of trustees president Darren Jirsa. “Kelly brings an impressive wealth of knowledge and experience well-suited to our mission and certain to advance our outstanding collections and programs and enhance our engagement with the community.”

“The Des Moines Art Center is an exceptional place,” said Baum. “A museum that is also an art school and a sculpture park, it marries the study, preservation, and making of art with a strong commitment to the peoples and artists of Iowa. It is a public institution in the best sense of the word, a place of connection, exchange, and shared learning. I’m thrilled to lead the Des Moines Art Center into the future, working with its staff to grow its extraordinary collection, to care for its historic campus, to bring its resources to the lives of ever more communities, to forge meaningful collaborations with local and national partners, and to magnify its impact in the city and beyond.”