When curator Tom Hinson retired from the Cleveland Museum of Art at the end of last year after 38 years, he left some big shoes to fill. He spearheaded the development of the museum’s contemporary collection, which was skimpy when he began in 1973, acquiring the major works that now fill the museum’s spacious new contemporary galleries. He was the impetus behind the development of its impressive photography collection and mounted shows by artists like Cindy Sherman, Ray Metzger, Shimon Attie, and the late Cleveland-based photographer Masumi Hayashi. He had focused on photography exclusively for the past decade.
But the museum didn’t have to look too far to find someone capable of filling those shoes — just down I-77, in fact. CMA has tapped Akron Art Museum director of curatorial affairs Barbara Tannenbaum.
Although the Akron museum is small (and was smaller still before the opening of its new building in 2007), it’s hosted some impressive exhibits during Tannenbaum’s 26-year tenure, including numerous major photography shows like a survey of women photographers, a show of the work of New York street photographer Weegee, and last year, the epic overview of 55 years of rock music photography “Who Shot Rock and Roll” from the Brooklyn Museum. It’s had shows of work by Edward Weston, Lee Friedlander, and is currently showing the work of master jazz photographer Herman Leonard. It’s also developed its own collection through the Knight Purchase Award, started in 1991, which has allowed it to acquire bodies of work by artists like Thomas Struth, Mary Ellen Mark, Richard Misrach, and Carrie Mae Weems. So Tannenbaum is well qualified to organize shows in the Cleveland Museum’s expanded photo galleries where she’ll have twice the space she has in Akron.
Tannenbaum wraps up work at the Akron Art Museum July 1; she starts at the Cleveland Museum of Art August 1. — Anastasia Pantsios