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Kristy Edmunds Named New Director At MASS MoCA In North Adams

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams has hired Kristy Edmunds as its second director in 33 years.

Edmunds is coming from Los Angeles, where she most recently led UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance.

Cultural and economic infrastructures have been hammered by COVID, including in North Adams, Edmunds said, and that is among the challenges she faces. But there’s a lesson to take from MASS MoCA's origins, she said.

“When I talk to people about what MASS MoCA is, in the town of North Adams, there's this immediate story of how it was the craziest idea that they ever heard of and yet somehow it happened, and now it’s this beloved place,” Edmunds said.

The arts and the museum will create new ways for people to feel optimistic Edmunds said, and bring them to the city.

Kristy Edmunds will be the new director of MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, starting in October.
Credit Courtesy / MASS MoCA
Kristy Edmunds will be the new director of MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, starting in October.

A top priority when she arrives in October, Edmunds said, is to connect with staff who six months ago formed a union and are now in collective bargaining.

While Edmunds has spent most of her career on the West Coast and in Australia, she said she has numerous colleagues in New England who work in the arts. She said she's come to the region many times for projects or to visit Sam Miller, who ran the New England Foundation for the Arts. Miller died in 2018 and was a close friend, Edmunds said.

This summer, when she was driving around the region, she felt at times like Miller was her guide.

“Sometimes when I'm walking in his stomping grounds I can feel his presence,” Edmunds said. “He was a legend and formative in the time period when MASS MoCA was getting off the ground.”

Edmunds succeeds MASS MoCA’s founding director, Joe Thompson, who announced his resignation in August 2020.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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