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April 05, 2024

Molly Donovan, Curator of Contemporary Art, Acting Head of Modern and Contemporary Art

Molly Donovan

Molly Donovan is curator of contemporary art and acting head of modern and contemporary art at the National Gallery of Art, where she has worked since 1993.

During her tenure, she has curated international touring exhibitions, including Rachel Whiteread (2017-2019), on which she collaborated with Ann Gallagher at Tate Britain, and Warhol: Headlines (2012-2013). Most recently, she was the initiator and coordinating curator for The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans, curated by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. Donovan was also co-curator with Kanitra Fletcher and Steven Nelson for the Washington presentation of Afro-Atlantic Histories (2022).

Donovan’s permanent collection exhibitions and acquisitions for the National Gallery of Art have augmented its program to include works by living artists. Among her many such presentations are Lynda Benglis (2021), Barbara Kruger: Profiles (2016–2017), and thematic permanent collection installations, including Bodies of Work (2017–2018), No More Play (2018), Flow, and Markers and Signs (2016–2018). She has initiated several innovative commissions at the National Gallery, including Roxy Paine’s Graft (2009), Leo Villareal’s Multiverse (2008), and Andy Goldsworthy’s Roof (2004–2005).

Donovan has written and lectured on numerous artists (in addition to the aforementioned), including Janine Antoni, María Berrío, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Byron Kim, Kimsooja, Teresita Fernández, Glenn Ligon, Richard Tuttle, and Ursula von Rydingsvard, as well as on the subject of art in public space. She has been a National Peer with GSA’s Design Excellence Program for Art in Architecture since 2000, is co-chair of the Public Art Consortium Collaboration Committee, and serves as an advisor to Dumbarton Oaks’ Contemporary Public Art Program.

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