Walker Art Center director Olga Viso has appointed Walker design director and curator Andrew Blauvelt to the executive-level position of Chief of Audience Engagement and Communications effective July 1, 2010. In his new administrative role, Blauvelt will oversee a new division comprised of the departments of Design, Editorial and Photography; Education and Community Programs; Marketing and Public Relations; and New Media Initiatives. Focused on enhancing and expanding the Walker’s audience engagement and communications efforts, this innovative clustering of museum departments and activities helps realize a core part of the institution’s two-pronged mission focused on catalyzing the creative expressions of artists and actively engaging audiences. “Andrew is uniquely suited to lead this effort at the Walker,” said Viso. “He brings an unparalleled set of diverse skills and talents in programming, design, communications, space and experience planning, and is deeply grounded in the Walker’s mission and history. I know he will forge exciting new modes of collaboration with his colleagues across the institution that will deeply enhance the experiences of our visitors and inspire other institutions seeking to develop innovative models for engaging audiences.”
The new Audience Engagement and Communications division will build upon the strengths of individual departments and develop meaningful cross-departmental strategies that seek to broaden, deepen, and diversify the Walker’s relationship with its audiences and advance its institutional communication goals across multiple media platforms. Working together to develop and guide institutional strategies in three key areas—interpretation, visitor experience, and integrated communications—a team formed of department heads will take the lead in developing overarching plans and establishing guiding principles across the institution, often working collaboratively with departments outside the division, including Visitor Services, Facilities, Security, curatorial departments, and Development and Membership.
The division is currently working on several long-term projects, including an online catalogue of its multidisciplinary collections funded by the Getty Foundation; a newly redesigned printed magazine and integrated Web site; enhancements to the museum’s public spaces; new mobile device tools that allow text and smartphone interaction with audiences; and a special summer-long project that enhances the outdoor spaces of the Walker and invites new external community partnerships and the direct participation of visitors.
Blauvelt will retain his duties as Curator of Architecture and Design at the Walker. In that capacity he has organized and presented several major touring exhibitions covering a range of topics, from the recent career survey of architect Eero Saarinen and the changing landscape of contemporary suburbia to a special installation in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden of product designs for the developing world.
Since 1998 Blauvelt has served as Design Director of the Walker, providing creative strategic direction for the Walker’s innovative brand identity across various media platforms and overseeing its publications program and design studio. A practicing graphic designer since 1986, his work has received more than 100 design awards and has been featured in such publications as I.D., Idea, Eye, Surface, Print, and Metropolis. He has been nominated for the Chrysler Award for Design Innovation and the National Design Awards in Communication Design, and his work has been exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, and the Design Museum, London, among others. In 2009 the Walker received the National Design Award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the first non-profit organization to receive the honor. A former professor of design at leading design schools, Blauvelt was named Educator of the Year in 1995 by the Graphic Design Education Association. He is a contributing writer to DesignObserver.com, a frequent lecturer at design conferences and schools worldwide, and was recently featured in the film Objectified, a documentary about contemporary product design.