Orlando Museum of Art Promotes from Within for Chief Curator Position

The Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) has concluded its search for its new chief curator, promoting Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon after six years of service in the collections and curatorial departments. Claeysen-Gleyzon replaced the longtime chief curator of the Orlando Museum of Art, Hansen Mulford, who quietly retired after 42 years this March. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Mulford retired without advanced notice to staff. 

Born in France and raised in Niger, Africa, Claeysen-Gleyzon has been with the OMA since January 2018, and has variously held the positions of associate curator, curator, and, more recently, interim head of the collections and exhibitions department.

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At the museum she has organized exhibitions such as its centennial retrospective (on view through May 5) and “Visual Conversations: Expressions of Individuality and Community,” from 2020. She’s worked overseas extensively, including stints as the gallery director of the Third Line Gallery in Doha, Qatar, and as an independent art adviser in Beirut, Lebanon. 

Claeysen-Gleyzon assumes her new role as the OMA continues to navigate the fallout of the FBI raid on a show of paintings attributed to Jean-Michel Basquiat but whose authenticity unraveled as more details of the nine-years-long FBI investigation were publicized. In April of last year, a former auctioneer admitted to helping create and sell the works.

The headline-grabbing raid commenced an exodus of museum leadership, including former OMA director Aaron De Groft, who was ousted only days later and has since been sued by the museum for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and conspiracy. (De Groft has countersued the museum for wrongful termination, defamation, and breach of contract.) The former chair of the board of trustees, Cynthia Brumback, also departed amid allegations that she and De Groft had withheld knowledge from colleagues that the museum had been served a subpoena prior to the opening of the contested exhibition, titled “Heroes & Monsters,” in February 2022. 

That same April, the museum named Cathryn Mattson as its new executive director and CEO. Mattson succeeded interim director Luder Whitlock, who replaced De Groft; Whitlock resigned after less than two months on the job. The museum has attempted to recommit itself to the Orlando community, launching initiatives such as commissioning the Orlando-based Akerman law firm to investigate the circumstances of the Basquiat scandal.

In a statement, Mattson praised Claeysen-Gleyzon’s “deep relationships within the Orlando arts and cultural community and beyond,” and added that she looks forward to collaborating with the curator as they “lead OMA into its next chapter.” 

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