Meanwhile, is there a creative crisis of the sort faced by the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art shaping up right here in Broward/Palm Beach? Curators aren't as high in the museum pecking order as executive directors, but they're just as essential, and for the past few years, they've been quietly leaving institutions as well. One of the sharpest ever to work in South Florida, Annegreth Nill, left her position as head curator of the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale several years ago, and the museum has never replaced her. Perhaps even more significantly, MoA|FL's Jorge Hilker Santis, a three-decade veteran of the museum and the de facto custodian of its institutional memory, will retire soon.

At the Norton, incoming executive director Hope Alswang was forced by budget restraints to lay off several employees, including curatorial staff, soon after her arrival in 2010, although a new photography curator, Tim Wride, was hired a couple of months ago. And while the Boca Museum's senior curator, Wendy Blazier, left recently after 15 years, she is being replaced by not one but two people: former Norton curator of American art Marisa Pascucci, who is in the newly created position of curator of 20th-century and contemporary art, and Kathleen Goncharov, who will start in September as curator of exhibitions and audience engagement, also a new position.

That leaves the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood — where Joy Satterlee has been executive director for about a decade and Jane Hart has been curator for a little over five years — as the only area art institution without a major shakeup in the past few years.

The Norton had to lay off employees.
Tom Brodigan
The Norton had to lay off employees.

What this bodes for the future, of course, is anyone's guess. Museums remain at the mercy of many forces beyond the control of a curator or even an executive director: the whims of unpredictable boards of trustees, the vagaries of the economy, and the trends of an art world that has always been, at best, fickle.

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