NEW + NOW > Get to Know | Village Voices > January 4, 2021

Get to Know…Agustín Arteaga of the DMA

Village Voices Feature - Agustin Arteaga


Can you tell us about some of the exciting things going on at the Dallas Museum of Art and why you are so passionate about what you do?

After five months closed, we were thrilled to safely reopen in August. Although the lights were off, everyone on staff kept working at a distance to nurture our constituents with wonderful virtual art experiences. We needed to feed our souls with beauty and uplifting conversations as we navigated those hard moments. Like all of my coworkers at the DMA, I am always inspired by the joy and solace that art provides us. Our commitment is to bring art to life.


Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I am a Mexican-born US citizen, and I have been doing all my life what I love most, serving communities and providing memorable experiences through the power of art. My biggest pleasure comes from being a curator, sharing what I have learned and mentoring my team is one of my big goals. I’ve been lucky to work in Mexico, where I started as curator and museum director almost 35 years ago. Time flies! I’ve been fortunate to serve in those same roles in different places around the world. In Argentina, I was the Founding Director of MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires); in Paris, I worked as a guest curator at the Jeu de Paume, and then I moved to Puerto Rico, to direct the Ponce Art Museum before going back to Mexico to lead the National Museum of Art.

In the early ‘90s I began forming professional relationships with the leadership team of the DMA. Since then, the DMA was always an aspiration, and in 2016 I became the Eugene McDermott Director. Good things happen when you prepare for them and are patient, and I may add, a bit of luck always help.


What makes the DMA so special and impactful to the city of Dallas?

The DMA is the only museum in North Texas with a collection that spans 5,000 years and includes cultures from all over the globe. Our collection celebrates the breadth of human creativity and provides an opportunity for visitors to explore connections between the past and present, but most of all, it allows people to see themselves reflected in the art they see on our walls, learning how their ancestors contributed to create splendid cultures that define what we are today. We strive to tell stories that will resonate with visitors of all interests, making everyone feel welcome and that they belong.


What do you enjoy the most about being a part of the Dallas arts scene?

Dallas has a fascinating, very vibrant art scene, with stunning architecture whose buildings house performing art centers and magnificent companies. The Dallas Symphony, the Dallas Opera, the Dallas Theater Center, the Dallas Black Dance Theater, just to mention a few. Museums and galleries in town showcase the highest quality art from local artists and around the world. What do I enjoy the most? Having a little time to rest after having a banquet of art at all these wonderful institutions.


Previously, the DMA has hosted an impressive list of exclusive exhibits, including DIOR, one of Highland Park Village’s favorites! What exhibits do you all have planned for 2021?

Visitors can look forward to eight new exhibitions coming to the DMA in 2021. In March, we are debuting the first U.S. exhibition in over 35 years dedicated to Juan Gris, along with Picasso and Braque, he is the founder of the cubist movement. We’ll present the first solo museum exhibitions for three emerging artists, designer Chris Schanck, a graduate of Booker T. Washington high school, multidisciplinary artist Julian Charrière, and painter Naudline Pierre. We will also open three exhibitions drawn entirely from our own collections of African, Latin American, and contemporary art. The grand finale will be the opening of Van Gogh and the Olive Groves.


What are some ways people in North Texas can get involved and experience the DMA?

We always want our community to know that the DMA has free general admission, and everyone is welcome to visit us – both online and on site. We encourage people to follow us on social media and subscribe to our email newsletters so they can enjoy original content from the DMA and stay connected from anywhere. We are immensely grateful for the support of our DMA Members, and encourage first-time and longtime visitors alike to consider joining. DMA Members enjoy exclusive experiences at the Museum, special access to digital content, and a richer connection with the DMA community.


Where would we most likely find you in Highland Park Village?

I can spend many good hours visiting stores, getting a haircut, or eating with friends, and this also goes back to the late ‘90s, when I was curating a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture retrospective. There was no way to do it without borrowing from the Nasher Collection, so I came to visit Mr. Raymond Nasher. He invited me for dinner and took me to Café Pacific. I visited him a few more times over the following years, and he would always take me back there. Once we moved to Dallas, my husband and I have made it our treasured place to eat in Highland Park Village. We always go there.


Highland Park Village is proud to spotlight our very own dynamic personalities and community partners in the Village Voices series. Get to know our past features.


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