Kunsthalle Basel curator Elena Filipovic will become the director of the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland, where she will start in that new position on June 1, 2024. The museum’s current leader since 2016, Josef Helfenstein, is set to retire.
At the Kunsthalle Basel, Filipovic has developed a closely watched program that has featured an array of celebrated shows, including ones for Michael Armitage, Anicka Yi, Dora Budor, Deana Lawson, Wong Ping, and many more.
The two current shows she curated for the Kunsthalle Basel, by P. Staff and Tiona Nekkia McClodden, also received praise during Art Basel.
Born in Los Angeles in 1972, Filipovic is known for her forward-thinking, venturesome sensibility. She curated the 2008 Berlin Biennale with Adam Szymczyk and the Croatian Pavilion for the 2022 Venice Biennale. Prior to joining the Kunsthalle Basel in 2014 as director, becoming the first woman to lead the museum, she was senior curator for the Wiels Contemporary Art Centre in Forest, Belgium.
Her Ph.D. thesis was on Marcel Duchamp, and she has repeatedly returned to the Dadaist’s work and artists inspired by it, such as David Hammons, in books she has written.
“The art historian in me couldn’t be more thrilled and also more deeply honored by the opportunity to lead one of the world’s great art museums in a city that is so strongly committed to the arts, and thereby continue the remarkable work carried out by Josef Helfenstein,” Filipovic said in a statement. “I very much look forward to this new task of shaping the museum’s future so that its rich history and unrivalled collection remain alive in the public awareness with new content and narratives.”
She continued, “As someone who believes fundamentally in the vital civic role of museums, it is exhilarating to reflect on the Kunstmuseum Basel and its possibilities, and importantly also on how it can respond to a world that is becoming ever more complex.”
Correction, 6/16/23, 8:50 a.m.: This article previously stated that Filipovic was named director of the Kunsthalle Basel, where she is curator. She has been named director of the Kunstmuseum Basel.