10 May 2017
Sydney, Australia: The Biennale of Sydney has announced the appointment of museum
director, curator and scholar Jo-Anne Birnie-Danzker as its new Director and Chief
Executive Officer. She will assume the position on 1 July 2017.
Birnie Danzker, who was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, has enjoyed an international career in
the United States, Germany and Canada, most recently serving as Director of the Frye Art Museum in
Seattle, Washington. Previous positions include Director of the Museum Villa Stuck Munich and Director
of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Kate Mills, Chairman of the Biennale of Sydney, said the Board was delighted to confirm the
appointment of Birnie Danzker following an extensive national and international search. ‘The selection
committee unanimously agreed that Jo-Anne’s leadership skills and experience in directing large-scale
international exhibitions and cross-disciplinary curatorial teams will be a tremendous asset to the
Biennale of Sydney as it expands its domestic and international presence, strengthens its curatorial
voice and builds commissioning partnerships nationally and internationally.’
Commenting on her appointment, Birnie Danzker expressed admiration for the accomplishments of the
Biennale team and the curatorial vision of Mami Kataoka, Artistic Director of the 2018 Biennale of
Sydney: ‘Mami’s examination of multiple modernities and competing and colliding values is important
Birnie Danzker noted that the inaugural Biennale of Sydney took place at the Sydney Opera House, a
world heritage site on ancient land known by its traditional custodians – the Gadigal people of the Eora
Nation – as the place ‘where the knowledge waters meet’: ‘For nearly half a century, the Biennale has
been a meeting place and a platform for exceptional artists and curators from Australia and around the
globe to share their knowledge. I am honoured to join the Biennale team and return to Sydney, one of
the most spectacular, culturally vibrant cities in the world.’
The 21st Biennale of Sydney will be presented over twelve weeks from Friday, 16 March until Monday,
11 June 2018 (Preview: Tuesday, 13 – Thursday, 15 March 2018).
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ABOUT JO-ANNE BIRNIE DANZKER
Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker served as director or curator of numerous
exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum Seattle (2009–2016), Museum Villa Stuck Munich (1992–2007) and
Vancouver Art Gallery (1984–1987) and at institutions such as the Deutsche Guggenheim and MartinGropius-Bau in Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; MoMA PS1 and Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum in New York.
At the Frye Art Museum, Birnie Danzker directed a series of exhibitions in collaboration with curatorial
collectives and artist-curators: Mw [Moment Magnitude] (2013); Young Blood: Noah Davis, Kahlil Joseph, The
Underground Museum curated by artist Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes (2016); as well as Genius / 21 Century /
Seattle which presented the work of 65 artists and artist groups, 29 new commissions or premieres, and more
than 40 performances and events over a four-month period.
Under her leadership, the Frye Art Museum was recognised in 2013 with the prestigious Mayor’s Arts Award
in the category Venture Culturalist. On 14 May 2017, the Trustees of Cornish College of the Arts Seattle will
confer on Birnie Danzker the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.
At the Museum Villa Stuck, Birnie Danzker served as exhibition director of The Short Century: Independence
and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945–1994 curated by Okwui Enwezor and Shanghai Modern: 1919-
1945, a joint project in 2005 of the cities of Munich and Shanghai, which she co-curated with artists Ken Lum
and Zheng Shengtian.
Birnie Danzker represented the United States at the inaugural 2012 US-China Forum on the Arts and Culture
at the National Museum of China with fifteen American museums. She has lectured and presented papers in
Canada, Germany, and Asia, most recently at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, Metropolitan Museum
of Art, New York and at academic forums including the Center for Aesthetics and Aesthetic Education, Peking
University; China Academy of Art, Hangzhou; China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; National Museum
of China, Beijing; Singapore Art Museum; Today Art Museum, Beijing; and Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou.
ABOUT THE BIENNALE OF SYDNEY
Since its inception in 1973, the Biennale of Sydney has provided a
platform for art and ideas, showcasing the work of nearly 1,800 artists from more than 100 countries. Today
it is considered one of the leading international contemporary art events, recognised for commissioning and
presenting innovative, thought provoking art from Australia and around the world. With an average of 40
percent of visits made by people from outside of Sydney, the Biennale holds an important place on both the
national and international stage. In 2018 the Biennale celebrates 45 years and will present its 21st edition
under the artistic direction of Mami Kataoka.
KEY DATES & DETAILS: 21ST BIENNALE OF SYDNEY
Public dates: Friday, 16 March 2018 until Monday, 11 June 2018
Media Preview: Tuesday, 13 March 2018
Preview: Tuesday, 13 March until Thursday, 15 March 2018
Entry to the Biennale of Sydney is free to the public.