Namita Wiggers

Namita Gupta Wiggers: The timing was right to leave the museum

As PNCA and the Museum of Contemporary Craft started a new chapter, the museum's leader took the opportunity to leave

Namita Gupta Wiggers brought Ai Weiwei's "Dropping the Urn" to Portland in 2010.

Namita Gupta Wiggers brought Ai Weiwei’s “Dropping the Urn” to Portland in 2010.

Late last week Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Craft announced that MoCC executive director and chief curator Namita Gupta Wiggers was leaving both posts. The timing seemed odd. Since she was hired in 2004, Wiggers had helped the museum successfully reinvent itself, move from its antiquated Southwest Corbett Ave. home to new quarters in the Pearl District, survive a near-death experience that led to its absorption into PNCA, and then helped it evolve into a partner with the college.

Wasn’t the good part about to begin? The part where Wiggers’s eye for opportunities and wide connections could generate even more and even better exhibitions at the museum? Especially since PNCA was on the verge of moving out of its Goodman Building home and into a gleaming renovation in the 511 Broadway building, just down the North Park Blocks from the museum? So what was the deal?

“My leaving is my own timing,” Wiggers said yesterday. “This is a good moment to shift my focus.”  And what makes it a good moment is that the trajectories of the museum, PNCA and Wiggers’ own career make this a good window for an exit. If she wanted to do some different things after 10 years and create the least disruption at the museum and PNCA, this is the time, and Wiggers took advantage of it. Which isn’t so odd at all.


Breaking: Namita Wiggers steps down at the Museum of Contemporary Craft

The director and chief curator will leave to pursue independent projects while keeping in touch with the museum she led since 2012

Namita Wiggers steps down from the Museum Of Contemporary Craft.

Namita Wiggers steps down from the Museum Of Contemporary Craft.

Namita Gupta Wiggers, the director and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, is leaving her post, Tom Manley, president of the Pacific Northwest College of Art announced today. PNCA and the museum integrated their operations in 2009.

While Wiggers served at the museum as curator, it relocated to the North Park Blocks, aligned with PNCA, doubled its collection, and generated increasingly deft exhibitions in its new space, including Ai Weiwei’s first West Coast exhibition and important looks at foundational figures in Northwest crafts, such as Betty Feves, Laurie Herrick and Ken Shores. Wiggers became both director and chief curator in 2012.

“I was first hired in 2004 to create a vision for a new kind of museum to address craft,” Wiggers said in the press release. “The partnership with PNCA has supported this work and ensures that one of the nation’s oldest institutions dedicated to craft has a renewed life as part of an urban college campus, while continuing to honor craft’s legacy. As the College transitions to the park blocks in 2015, the Museum is now fully poised to support student life, curriculum, and a newly integrated role in this next phase of a 78 year-long history.”

Wiggers will continue to work with PNCA and the museum in new roles as she pursues outside curating, consulting, and teaching opportunities and develops Critical Craft Forum, an online forum for the craft community she co-founded in 2008.

“Namita has been key in driving the Museum of Contemporary Craft to engage in significant national conversations around craft while honoring the institution’s regional legacy,” Manley said.”Her impact on the institution and the field will be felt well into the future, and we look forward to this new phase of our relationship with her.”

We’ll provide details as they arise.

Oregon ArtsWatch Archives