Olga Viso and Sam Durant at a press conference regarding the sculpture Scaffold. Photo: Evan Frost for MPR News

Olga Viso Steps Down as Executive Director of Walker Art Center in Minneapolis

The board of trustees of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has announced that Olga Viso is stepping down from her post as the institution’s executive director. The board will create a search committee for a new executive director.

“We are grateful for Olga’s leadership and celebrate her significant contributions to the Walker Art Center during the past ten years,” said Monica Nassif, board president. “She led the organization through a major capital campaign to fund the vision and redesign of our entire campus, including the new Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In addition, she championed experimental and underrepresented artists throughout her tenure, while bringing many noteworthy exhibitions to the Walker, such as ‘Merce Cunningham: Common Time, International Pop,’ and groundbreaking exhibitions like ‘Adios Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950,’ one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of Cuban art to be organized in the US in decades and currently on view. We wish her well for her next career opportunity. As we look beyond this transition, the Walker Board is focused on fully activating the new campus, proceeding as a global artistic leader, continuing our commitments to be a more inclusive organization, and being responsive to community perspectives and political realities of this time."

Viso and the artist Sam Durant faced a great deal of backlash from the Dakota Nation and other members of the American Indian community earlier this year over the installation in the Walker’s Sculpture Garden of Durant’s Scaffold, 2012, a two-story work partially inspired by the gallows where thirty-eight Dakotas were hanged in Mankato in 1862—the largest mass execution in US history. Viso and Durant apologized to the Dakota people for not consulting them about the sculpture and worked with the tribe on a solution for Scaffold. Over a series of talks, Dakota elders decided to dismantle the work and bury its pieces in an undisclosed location.