The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announces the promotion of Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher from Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design to Department Head and Helen Hilton Raiser Associate Curator of Architecture and Design, effective immediately. Dunlop Fletcher joined SFMOMA as assistant curator in November 2007 and has been serving as acting department head since May 2011. She succeeds Henry Urbach, who was curator of the department from 2006 until his departure in 2011.
“After a two-year international search, we found the brightest star under our own roof,” said Ruth Berson, SFMOMA deputy museum director of curatorial affairs. “Jennifer has more than grown into the position and we are thrilled that her strategic vision, curatorial expertise, and deep knowledge of the global design community will be guiding the department as the museum embarks on a transformative expansion project.”
“It couldn’t be a more exciting time to be at SFMOMA,” Dunlop Fletcher said. “The building’s imminent expansion, the interim period to explore off-site collaborations, and the now twenty-five-year-old Architecture and Design collection are all wonderful opportunities to re-examine the role of design in the Bay Area and beyond. SFMOMA has such a rich design collection, with the foundation and flexibility to expand in several new directions while still collecting historically significant works. There’s s no other collection like it in the United States, much less the West Coast, and it’s time to share the collection even further through major exhibitions, scholarship, collegial collaborations, and increased public engagement.”
In her new role, Dunlop Fletcher will continue to organize major exhibitions, undertake scholarship, steward the collection, and engage actively with artists, designers, collectors, and curatorial colleagues around the world. Most recently she co-curated Lebbeus Woods, Architect at SFMOMA (on view through June 2, 2013), which examines the influential practice of the New York–based conceptual architect whose work has been collected in depth by SFMOMA for the past eighteen years. The exhibition will travel to the Broad Art Museum (2013) and the Drawing Center (2014)—the first SFMOMA architecture and design exhibition to travel in the history of the department. Dunlop Fletcher is currently guest curating the first major museum retrospective of the Los Angeles–based architect A. Quincy Jones for the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (May 25–September 8, 2013), which will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring her essay on Jones’s uniquely collaborative practice.
In 2012, Dunlop Fletcher organized The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area at SFMOMA, featuring local projects that were influenced by Fuller’s interest in systems, technology, and design’s ability to address societal issues. The popular exhibition also included a commissioned live performance by Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Sam Green and indie rock band Yo La Tengo, titled “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller.”
In addition to organizing critically acclaimed exhibitions, Dunlop Fletcher has actively contributed to growing and shaping the museum’s architecture and design collection, consistently published new scholarship, and taught and lectured extensively. Significant works recently brought into the collection under her leadership include Ant Farm’s Convention City model (1972); Ron Arad’s Concrete Stereo (1983); Nathalie du Pasquier’s Royal chaise (1983); four drawings from Lebbeus Woods’s Inhabiting the Quake series (1995); Nacho Carbonell’s One Man chair (2009); and Bas Princen’s Train Depot (Hexagon Exoskeleton) (2005). Dunlop Fletcher’s published work includes essays in the Ewan Gibbs: America exhibition catalogue (2011) and blanco sobre blanco, a recent book that focuses on the work of Tobias Wong (2012). In addition to her work with SFMOMA, she has been teaching in the Curatorial Practice program at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco since 2009.
Prior to her work at SFMOMA, Dunlop Fletcher co-curated Evidence of Movement (2007) and Julius Shulman, Modernity and the Metropolis (2005) at the Getty Research Institute, where she served as exhibition coordinator from October 2004 to December 2007. From 2004 to 2007, she served on the board of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, where she organized several architecture events around the city. At the Southern California Institute of Architecture from 2002 to 2003, she established the organization’s first gallery program and curated installations by architects Andrew Zago, Hernan Diaz-Alonso, Office dA, and Raimund Abraham, among others. From 1999 to 2002, she was a curatorial assistant at the Hammer Museum where she worked closely with curator James Elaine on the Hammer Projects installations.
Dunlop Fletcher earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from New York University. She received a master’s in curatorial studies of contemporary art from Bard College, and a master’s in architecture history and theory from Harvard University.
Architecture and Design at SFMOMA
In 1983, SFMOMA became the first West Coast museum to formally establish a Department of Architecture and Design. The department collects historical and contemporary works of architecture, furniture design, product design, and graphic design, as well as works of art that address these design disciplines. It also focuses on architecture and design achievements particular to the Bay Area, California, the American West, and the Pacific Rim. In the late 1990s the collection began to develop concentrations in several areas, including experimental architecture and typography, Bay Area design, modern furniture, and installation architecture.
Today the department’s holdings include such key works as the conference room from Charles and Ray Eames’s design studio; furniture by the late Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata; and works by important Bay Area designers, including Bernard Maybeck, Timothy Pflueger, William Wurster, John Dickinson, Jennifer Morla, and Jack Stauffacher. The department’s curators seek objects that speak to architecture and design as a meaningful collective project and provoke new ways of understanding the designed world. Paolo Polledri served as curator from 1987 to 1994 and Aaron Betsky succeeded Polledri to serve as curator of architecture, design, and digital projects from 1995 to 2001. In 2002 Joseph Rosa was appointed Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design. In 2006 Rosa was succeeded by Henry Urbach.