Artpod: A conversation with GRAM's new art director

Jun 16, 2011

Dana Friis-Hansen will take the lead at the Grand Rapids Art Museum next month. On this week's Artpod, we talk with Friis-Hansen about his museum philosophy, the state's art ecosystem, and what he means by "negative space."

Bump it up!

Friis-Hansen most recently worked at the Austin Museum of Art. For his new job at the GRAM, he was looking for a strong creative community, but a place where he could "bump things up" a little. Seems fitting for a guy who recently gave a talk titled Setting Arts Museums on Fire

"Whenever I take a job, I sort of look at what’s been done, what’s been seen, and then I look at the negative space – what’s missing, what’s not there – and then bring it to the community."

Cabinets of curiosity vs. mausoleums

Friis-Hansen wants to make sure the GRAM is not one of those "stuffy old places" where you're not supposed to have a conversation or write or do anything other than admire the art.

Instead, Friis-Hansen believes "a 21st century museum should be a convener of the community. We’ve got to get people in there to see art, but also for girl scouts or boy scouts, weddings, and memorial services. It should be part of the community’s everyday life."

Michigan's art ecosystem

Friis-Hansen says all the different museums in the state provide a "lively mix" of conversation, and he's looking forward to collaborating with the other art museums.

He adds that there's a lot of great art in Michigan, so "let's stand on the rooftops and shout about it!"