Valéria Piccoli, curator of Latin American Art and head of Art of the Americas at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Credit: Dan Dennehy | Minneapolis Institute of Art

This story comes to you from MPR News through a partnership with Sahan Journal.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art has created a new position: For the first time, they will have a curator of Latin American Art. After a global search, the Minneapolis Institute of Art tapped Valéria Piccoli, who, for the past 12 years, was the chief curator of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, one of the largest art museums in Brazil. 

Piccoli relocated to the Twin Cities in November. 

“I arrived right in time for winter,” Piccoli said. “So, it’s been really an adventure for me.” 

She said her first step in this role is to get know Minneapolis Institute of Art’s collection of Latin American art as well as the local community.  

“My plan basically is, understand what the museum already has as a collection and then understand what is this Latin American community that lives around here, and then try to combine both things and really bring the ideas that can come up from this community,” Piccoli said. 

A press release from the MIA stated that the new position was created to reflect “the growing Latino and Hispanic communities in the Twin Cities—as well as an awareness of a gap in the museum’s global approach to collecting and presenting art, which includes a diverse array of historical and contemporary art from across Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as Native American communities and postcolonial America.”

The press release also states that the position is funded by a $6 million bequest by Ken and Linda Cutler 

Piccoli isn’t just the institute’s first ever curator of Latin American art. She is also the inaugural Ken and Linda Cutler Chair of Arts of the Americas, a position created when the Minneapolis Institute of Art recently reorganized several of its collections under a new Department of Arts of the Americas. This department includes “artworks created by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from North, Central, and South America, from prehistory to the present.” 

While Piccoli is still in the initial stages of developing a strategy for her department and curatorial position, she says she would like the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s collection to acquire art of the early 20th-century and earlier, rather than contemporary art or late 20th-century art. For one, Minneapolis Institute of Art already as a Department of Global Contemporary Art. 

“What would be more interesting would be to have a strong historical collection of Latin American art,” Piccoli said.

Many other U.S. institutions have been investing in 20th-century Latin American art, she said, citing the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

“Minneapolis Institute of Art has to be a little bit different from them,” she said. “So, it’s a question also to understand the place that Minneapolis Institute of Art can have; how Minneapolis Institute of Art can be relevant in this scenario considering also other institutions in the U.S.” 


Alex V. Cipolle is a journalist based in Minneapolis. Her work covering art, culture, and society has appeared in the New York Times, Hyperallergic, Fast Company, The Oregonian, the Star Tribune, ARCHITECT...