New Museum Leadership Changes: Isolde Brielmaier to Depart, as Karen Wong Returns

With the New Museum closed to the public until its expansion opens early next year, there has been a musical-chairs-style reshuffle among the institution’s top brass. Next month, Isolde Brielmaier, the institution’s current deputy director, will depart. Meanwhile, Karen Wong, the former deputy director who launched its NEW INC art-tech incubator, will return to the museum in the newly created role of Chief Brand Officer.

Brielmaier is leaving on June 7 to spearhead the launch of a new private-sector global arts and culture venture focused on community investment and social impact. She will be replaced as deputy director by Regan Grusy, who has been with the museum for 15 years and is currently chief of staff and vice president of strategic partnerships.

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“We are extremely grateful for Isolde’s many contributions during her tenure and her role in helping to steer the New Museum through the uncertainty of a global pandemic and immense cultural shifts,” New Museum director Lisa Phillips said in a statement to ARTnews. “Isolde has been a valued partner through an important chapter of our institution’s history, and we look forward to continuing to work with her as a lifelong friend of the Museum and an integral part of its extended community.”

Brielmaier joined the museum in fall of 2021 to replace Wong, who had served for nine years as deputy director; she had previously served on its board of trustees prior to being hired. Brielmaier’s remit when joined was to head up external affairs, marketing, and NEW INC, as well as oversee media partnerships, publications, and visitor experience. She came to the museum after serving as the consulting director of arts and culture at Westfield World Trade Center. She has also been a professor of critical studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has served as guest curator at the International Center for Photography (ICP) in New York.

“It has been an honor to be a part of the New Museum these past seven years, first as a trustee and then as deputy director,” Brielmaier said in a statement to ARTnews. “I’m very proud of all that our team has accomplished together and gratified to have worked closely with such inspired, creative, and dedicated people across the Museum. I look forward to remaining engaged with the New Museum’s community through my participation in the Artemis Council and the exciting programming that will take place in the expanded building when it opens on the Bowery.”

As her new role as Chief Brand Officer, Wong, who had a run of 15 years at the New Museum before she left in 2021, will oversee content development and brand stewardship in the lead up to the Museum’s reopening. During her previous tenure at the museum, Wong founded the IdeasCity, NEW INC, and ONX Studio initiatives. She left the New Museum to focus on Guilty by Association (GBA), a digital platform for art sales and community building that she co-founded with Derek Wiggins, who has developed art collaborations with brands like Nike and Supreme. Wong is also currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University, and an advisory board member of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.


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