NC Museum of Art names new director, Guggenheim curator Valerie Hillings

Natural light floods the West Building of the North Carolina Museum of Art.Courtesy of the NCMA

The North Carolina Museum of Art has named a new director, and she’ll be the first woman to lead the state’s art museum since it was established.

The museum announced Monday that Duke University alumnus Valerie Hillings will replace longtime director Larry Wheeler, 75, who announced his retirement in November. He has helmed the museum since 1994.

Hillings, 47, lives in New York, where she has worked for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation since 2004. She serves as the curator and associate director of curatorial affairs for the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a contemporary-art museum that’s being established in the United Arab Emirates.

“Having a woman director was probably overdue,” Wheeler said. “But regardless of gender, qualifications drive the ship and she has excellent credentials. We think she’s very worthy.”

Hillings has curated more than 15 exhibitions on four continents and been widely published. She has also served on art-prize juries and was a fellow at the Central for Curatorial Leadership in New York in 2016, according to the NC Museum of Art.

In an interview, Hillings said she is excited about the challenge.

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North Carolina Museum of Art’s new director is Valerie Hillings, a Guggenheim curator and Duke University alumnus, succeeding the retiring Larry Wheeler. // Photo by Isaac James


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