Stanford University announced this week that Connie Wolf will be the next director of its Cantor Center for the Visual Arts. Wolf is a Stanford alumna, and is currently serving as director and CEO of San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM). Wolf will assume the role of director on January 1, 2012, replacing Thomas Seligman, who became the center’s first full time director in 1991. Seligman will continue research and teaching at Stanford.
During Wolf’s 12-year tenure at CJM, the museum grew from a small community-based organization in a 2,500-square-foot building to a major institution with a landmark 63,000-square-foot museum in downtown San Francisco. She oversaw the $85 million new building project with architect Daniel Libeskind, as well as a $25 million endowment campaign for the institution. Under her guidance, CJM’s staff grew from six to more than 60, with a 41-member board of trustees and a docent and volunteer program of 75.
“In the interviews, Connie indicated that she would bring a high level of creativity and energy to the position of director,” said Richard Saller, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. He added that her interest in “using technology to extend the modes of education” was a good match for Stanford.
“We have an opportunity to take Cantor’s strong collections and its legacy and think about it in a new era,” said Wolf. She also emphasized her love of education and the necessity of meeting today’s students on their own turf, “making sure that the museum has a kind of relevance to how a younger generation connects to ideas. At the same time, nothing can replace the experience of looking at a piece of art.”
Wolf’s appointment follows two major developments in the visual arts at Stanford. In June, Stanford announced the acquisition of the Anderson Collection, one of the most outstanding private collections of post-World War II American art in the world. In April, the university announced the selection of Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design the McMurtry arts building, a new 90,000-square-foot home for the Department of Art & Art History, which will serve as an interdisciplinary hub for the arts at Stanford.
Wolf received a B.A. in East Asian studies from Stanford in 1981, and has since co-curated CJM’s current exhibition, “Meeting Gertrude Stein: Five Stories” with Stanford’s Wanda Corn, emeritus professor of art. In October, she will host a Stanford graduate student symposium at CJM.