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SFMOMA Announces Two Key Appointments to Further Museum’s Mission

Erin O’Toole to Lead Museum’s Photography Department and Katy Siegel to Direct Research and Special Program Initiatives

Released: July 28, 2022 · Download (0 KB PDF)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 28, 2022)—The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) today announced two key appointments to further the museum’s mission to share the art of our time with passion and purpose as it strives to be a vital, inclusive place of inspiration for all. Erin O’Toole has been appointed Curator and Head of Photography and Katy Siegel has been appointed Research Director, Special Program Initiatives, bringing deep expertise in their fields, years of experience building wide-ranging exhibitions and a demonstrated commitment to artists and community engagement.

O’Toole, formerly SFMOMA’s Baker Street Foundation Curator and Interim Head of Photography, will be responsible for the strategic direction of the department and the museum’s research, acquisitions, exhibitions and publications in the area of photography. The position will maximize the potential of the Pritzker Center for Photography—the largest space dedicated to the study, exhibition and interpretation of the medium at any U.S. art museum. O’Toole will begin her new role on August 1, 2022.

Siegel, formerly Senior Programming & Research Curator at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and currently Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Chair of Modern American Art at Stony Brook University, will develop scholarly research related to modern and contemporary art and SFMOMA’s collections to help generate new special exhibitions and projects. In this capacity, Siegel will partner closely with leadership roles across the museum to ensure dynamic and engaging programs. Siegel will officially begin her new role at SFMOMA on September 6, 2022.

“We announce these two appointments with tremendous energy and optimism for all they will bring to SFMOMA’s next chapter,” said Christopher Bedford, Helen and Charles Schwab Director of SFMOMA. “Erin brings deep institutional knowledge, wide-ranging expertise and a proven track record of featuring artists and genres of photography previously overlooked. Katy brings a breadth of experience and long-term dedication to telling a more expansive art history and connecting with audiences in new ways. I look forward to the new future we’ll invent with them, SFMOMA’s staff and community.”

About Erin O’Toole

During O’Toole’s 15-year tenure at SFMOMA, she has brought into the collection over 100 works by artists as wide-ranging as Carleton Watkins, Anthony Hernandez, Carrie Mae Weems and Dayanita Singh.

O’Toole has organized many acclaimed exhibitions for SFMOMA, including The View from Here: California Photographs from the Collection (2010) and Anthony Hernandez (2016), the first major museum exhibition of the Los Angeles–based photographer, for which she edited the accompanying catalogue. O’Toole was part of the curatorial team for Garry Winogrand (2013), a major retrospective that traveled to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Jeu de Paume. Recent exhibitions include April Dawn Alison (2019) and Thought Pieces: Photographs by Lew Thomas, Donna-Lee Phillips and Hal Fischer (2020), for which O’Toole edited catalogues published by MACK Books; and Off the Wall with Oliver Chanarin, Liz Deschenes, Lieko Shiga, Dayanita Singh and Sarah Sze, (2021), which brought together five artists whose work challenges traditional notions of photographic display.

With interests that extend beyond photography, O’Toole also curated the 2017 SECA Art Award (with Jenny Gheith) and commissioned (with Eungie Joo) Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams by Twin Walls Mural Company. In 2019, she commissioned the painter David Huffman to create the large-scale work Rise for the Chase Center, the home of the Golden State Warriors, as part of SFMOMA’s partnership with that organization. O’Toole holds a BA in Art History from UC Santa Cruz, an MA in Art History from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a PhD in Art History from the University of Arizona.

About Katy Siegel

Siegel’s scholarly and curatorial interests are focused on the relationship between material art-making and social history. Prior to her tenure at the BMA (2016–22), she was curator at large at the Rose Art Museum (2013–16) and held positions at Hunter College, Princeton University, Yale University and University of Memphis. Recent exhibitions (with accompanying publications) include Joan Mitchell (co-curated with Sarah Roberts); Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture (co-curated with Kelly Baum); Tomorrow is Another Day, Mark Bradford’s presentation in the American Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale and Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art at the BMA (both co-curated with Christopher Bedford); and Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965 (co-curated with Okwui Enwezor and Ulrich Wilmes).

Additional publications by Siegel include “The heroine Paint”: After Helen Frankenthaler; Abstract Expressionism; and Since ’45: America and the Making of Contemporary Art, which details the collision of American social history with European modernist models. She has written widely on contemporary and modern art, and her recent research topics include artists Mary Lovelace O’Neal and Toshiko Takaezu. Siegel serves on the advisory committee for the African American Archive Initiative at the Getty Research Institute, is contributing editor at Artforum and a member of the editorial board at The Brooklyn Rail. From 2010–13 she was the editor in chief of Art Journal. Siegel holds a BA in Art History from Oberlin College and an MA and PhD in Art History from University of Texas at Austin.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the United States and a thriving cultural center for the Bay Area. Our remarkable collection of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design and media arts is housed in a LEED Gold-certified building designed by the global architects Snøhetta and Mario Botta. In addition to our seven gallery floors, SFMOMA offers 45,000 square feet of free, art-filled public space open to all.

Visit sfmoma.org or call 415.357.4000 for more information.

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Image credits:
SFMOMA, view from Yerba Buena Gardens; photo: © Henrik Kam, courtesy SFMOMA
Erin O’Toole; photo: Don Ross, courtesy SFMOMA
Katy Siegel; photo: Ethel Shipton


Clara Hatcher Baruth 415.357.4177 chatcher@sfmoma.org