“In the summer of 1977, I wandered into Kathy Halbreich’s office at MIT with no expectations, responding to an ad for an assistant and just as she was beginning her curatorial career. Luckily, I got the job, probably because I typed very fast. But quite simply, she changed my life, inspiring me to become a curator. I suspect I was the first of many in generations to follow. Her attitude, her values, the way she practices her craft sets the standard; she remains the model to which I aspire. Kathy conveys a passion and appreciation for both art and artists that is palpable and deep. Her love of language and thought is equally intense. While she maintains an astonishing rigor and discipline, her willingness to take risks, to seek the unknown, and to embrace insecurity and doubt are constant. The quotidian but fundamental issues of budgets, schedules, and administrative tasks are given as much attention and care as the art that inspires her.
On a moral level, her integrity is impeccable, her commitment unflinching. She brings warmth, concern, compassion, and generosity of spirit to personal interactions. Art, however important, remains a part of life, and its ultimate value is in how it sustains and enriches personal and social relationships. Contemporary art and all of us who are involved with it and care about it have been immeasurably affected and enriched because of Kathy’s involvement and her leadership, and her determination that contemporary art is and must be important for our lives.”
–Gary Garrels, chief curator and deputy director, Exhibitions and Public Programs, Hammer Museum
“The fundamental role that the staff plays in a museum’s success in the world is often overlooked. In my opinion, this was one of Kathy’s gifts — valuing the participation of every member of the staff. People seemed to not only enjoy their jobs, but took pride in them. Believe me, this is unique.”
–Robert Gober, artist
“The thing that amazes me about Kathy is her willingness to work with the community and neighbors in order to guide the Walker as an institution that is so much of and a part of our community. Her respect for how the Walker is viewed and used by the diverse residents of our city is evident in so much of what she did and what the organization has done in terms of programming and the building itself. Her unique perspective on blending and weaving the organization and its mission into the city sets her apart as a leader in the arts community.”
—Lisa Goodman, Minneapolis City Council member, Ward 7