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ICA-Miami director announces departure

Ellen Salpeter, director of the new Institute for Contemporary Art, Miami, has stepped down to pursue other projects, the Design District museum said Thursday.
Ellen Salpeter, director of the new Institute for Contemporary Art, Miami, has stepped down to pursue other projects, the Design District museum said Thursday.

Ellen Salpeter, director of the new Institute for Contemporary Art, Miami, has stepped down to pursue other projects, the Design District museum said Thursday.

The resignation of Salpeter, the museum's first permanent director, was unexpected.

To fill her role, the ICA promoted two administrators. Chief curator Alex Gartenfeld will become artistic director, in charge of institutional vision, strategy, and programming as chief executive officer, the museum said in a statement. Associate director Tommy Ralph Pace will become deputy director, with oversight of operations, institutional advancement, and external affairs.

Salpeter joined the ICA in December 2015, when the museum was operating in temporary quarters in the Miami Design District. She oversaw completion of the museum's new permanent home, which opened Dec. 1, and a series of opening exhibits. Her resignation is effective June 1.

A longtime arts institution leader in New York, Salpeter came to the ICA from the Jewish Museum in New York, where she served as deputy director of external affairs.

In an interview, Salpeter said she leaves the museum "keyed up for its next phase." Exhibition programming has been set through 2020, she noted. A "robust" educational program is in place, membership has doubled and the board of trustees was expanded during her tenure, she said.

Gartenfeld and Pace, members of the museum administration since its 2014 founding, are ready to lead it, she added. The ICA emerged from a split between the board of North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art and its municipal landlord.

“It’s been such a great experience. We really checked off all these boxes," Salpeter said. "It’s a good moment for them to step up and an opportunity for the ICA to take it to the next level. My task and pleasure has been to get it to this place. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done."

ICA board of trustees co-chair Irma Braman, who with her husband Norman Braman helped fund much of the museum's new building, said: "Ellen's depth of experience and her leadership have been crucial as ICA Miami mapped out its long-term plans and opened the doors to its new home. We greatly appreciate all of Ellen's work, which has helped our young institution build its best practices and increase community impact, and wish her the best in her next steps."

Attendance at the museum, which boasts free admission, has been around 40,000 since opening, a spokesman said.

ICA Miami is about to make its big debut in the Design District. Philanthropist Norman Braman and his wife, Irma, talk about the importance of giving back to a city they have called home since 1969 and the desire to establish a contemporary art mu

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