By Anna Byerley
Photo by Tina Gutierrez Arts Photography
Louisville’s Speed Art Museum has selected accomplished curator, art historian and arts administrator Raphaela Platow as its new executive director. Platow has been the Alice & Harris Weston Director of the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in Cincinnati, Ohio since 2007.
Coming from an extensive background in art, Platow earned her M.A. in Art History and Business Administration from Humboldt University in Berlin, and her B.A. in Art History and Economics from Albert-Ludwig University in Freiburg. She also has certificates in French Civilization, Art History and Philosophy from the University of Sorbonne in Paris.
Prior to joining the CAC, Platow has served as chief curator and acting director at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, International Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina and was part of the team that presented Rosemarie Trockel at the German Pavilion at the 1999 Venice Biennale. Platow has also held positions at the Kunstforum München and Projektraum Berlin.
During her 14 years at the CAC, Platow’s leadership has completely transformed the institution into a more welcoming and inclusive place, quadrupling the annual attendance. To enhance the physical space and to improve visitor experience at the CAC, Platow initiated the renovation of the Zaha Hadid-designed building’s lobby in 2015 and implemented free admission for all visitors in 2016.
Under her leadership, the CAC has also doubled its annual operating budget through substantial increases in earned revenue and private support. Platow also reshaped, expanded and increased its learning, outreach and community engagement programs to better serve the community.
Platow was also able to strengthen and globalize the CAC’s exhibitions to international acclaim. She organized and curated major exhibitions of work by Robert Colescott, Ugo Rondinone, Keith Haring and Maria Lassnig, and many others. She also was able to see the CAC present landmark exhibitions of work by Titus Kaphar, Do Ho Suh, Swoon and Pia Camil, and has launched a celebrated performance program and annual festival, “This Time Tomorrow.”
Platow’s appointment was made by unanimous decision of a seven-member search committee led by Speed Board of Trustees Chair Roger Cude. “In addition to her nearly two decades of museum leadership, Raphaela brings to the Speed a deep passion for and knowledge of the art and culture of our region, and a proven commitment to accessibility and inclusion,” said Cude. “It’s clear from her accomplishments in Cincinnati that Raphaela is uniquely equipped with the experience, skills and vision to lead the Museum into the future, ensuring that it remains a dynamic, welcoming destination for diverse visitors of all walks of life.”
It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to outgoing Director, Stephen Reily, who joined the Speed in 2017. Under Reily’s leadership, the Speed has redefined its relationship to the communities in Louisville and across Kentucky. The Museum introduced several programs aimed at improving inclusivity and accessibility, such as Speed for All, which provides free memberships to those for whom cost is a barrier of access, and After Hours at the Speed, a monthly evening event featuring a wide variety of programming designed to bring new visitors to the Museum. Reily’s most recent contribution was bringing “Promise, Witness, Remembrance,” the museum’s exhibition reflecting on the life of Breonna Taylor, her killing in 2020 and the year of protests that followed, in Louisville and around the world, which closed its extended run on June 13. However, now under new leadership, the Louisville community and beyond is excited to see what’s in store under now Executive Director, Raphaela Platow, and the new future of the Speed Art Museum.
“The Speed is a renowned, encyclopedic art museum with a robust commitment to contemporary art and deep investment in the Louisville community and the region,” said Platow. “I am delighted to join the Speed team, working alongside the staff and board to build on the work they have been doing, and to ensure it remains a welcoming, inclusive, and highly dynamic space where art, creativity, dialogue and reflection are the centerpiece.”
The Speed Art Museum
2035 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40208