by JOSHUA BARONE
Karole Vail, who has been named director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Credit David M. Heald/The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Karole Vail, a curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, has been named director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, and the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for Italy.
Not only is Ms. Vail a Guggenheim stalwart — she has been on staff since 1997 and organized the sweeping retrospective “Moholy-Nagy: Future Present” last year — but she also has personal ties to the institution: Peggy Guggenheim was her grandmother.
Richard Armstrong, the director of the Guggenheim in New York, said in a statement that he has “the deepest respect for her scholarship, curatorial insight, unfailingly sound judgment and collegial management style.” He added that “her personal ties to the institution and roots in Italy and Europe will add an unmatched depth and nuance to her work.”
Ms. Vail begins this month and will be only the second director in the history of the collection, which is in Peggy Guggenheim’s palazzo on the Grand Canal and holds her personal collection of 20th-century works, including masterpieces of Cubism and Surrealism. She succeeds Philip Rylands, who has led it for 37 years and will now take on the title of director emeritus.
“Of course, he does leave huge, huge shoes to fill,” Ms. Vail said of Mr. Rylands in an interview.
Among the highlights of Mr. Rylands’s tenure was a huge boost to the collection’s attendance, which the Guggenheim says is the most-visited modern art collection in Italy, and the second-most visited museum in Venice.
“The collection is extremely well established and it’s well admired,” Ms. Vail said, “but my goal is to work with the staff to build upon the museum’s success.”
Ms. Vail added that she wanted to expand the collection’s exhibition program and look into possible partnerships with local museums in Venice and throughout Italy.
In the meantime, she has one more project in the works at the Guggenheim in New York: She is one of the organizers of the retrospective “Alberto Giacometti,” which is scheduled to open next year.