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In an age when everything is 'curated,' these folks are the real deal

April 3, 2010 |  7:00 am
Cura “I was thinking of going to England to do something more calm,” says Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, a former director, curator and consultant of the Cisneros Fontanals Arts Foundation in Miami. Instead, she became chief curator of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. Answering the call of Richard P. Townsend, the museum’s new president, she agreed to help transform the institution founded by the late Robert Gumbiner and endowed with $25 million.

Gumbiner was an eccentric collector, but he left a museum “ready to move to the next level,” Fajardo-Hill says. “There is only one museum of Latin American art in the States and it’s this one. Everything is in place to do something great, so I had no excuse to say no. It was too perfect.”

With plans to present three or four edgy contemporary projects each year, in addition to three major exhibitions and a changing array of works from the collection, Fajardo-Hill has her work cut out for her. And she has lots of collegial company. 

Over the last couple of years, amid an economic downturn that has brought cutbacks at museums nationwide, about 20 curators have landed jobs at Southern California’s art museums. The infusion of new blood reflects a growing ethnic diversity as well as fresh perspectives and new directions.

To read the full story in Sunday’s Arts & Books section, click here.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photo: from left, Leah Lehmbeck of the Norton Simon Museum, Patrick Polk of the Fowler Museum, Anne Ellegood of the Hammer Museum, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill of the Museum of Latin American Art and Douglas Fogle of the Hammer Museum, photographed at the Hammer, part of the new class of museum curators in Southern California.

Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times