The MCA’s dream team
Meet two new faces revamping the museum—and one longtime staffer with a groundbreaking new role.
Erika Hanner, director of convergent programming
Will shake up the MCA by promoting collaboration across the museum’s many departments
What that will mean to you Don’t be surprised to see ballet dancers, musicians and other performers in galleries traditionally reserved for paintings and sculptures.
Director of convergent programming is a mouthful for a business card, but it’s apt. “I think the title is right-on in that it speaks to this catalyst role, this dynamism, this energy that’s going on at the MCA,” says Hanner, 39, who stepped into the newly created role in October after 16 years at the museum. “But it does leave you saying, ‘Now what does that mean?’ ”
Convergence, in this case, refers to cross-museum collaboration, maximizing programming opportunities throughout the exhibition process, and every staffer being kept on the same page. Hanner, who earned an M.B.A. from Loyola, most recently served as the MCA’s director of education. “[Creating programming around exhibitions] is already embedded in what the education department does,” she says. “My role now is broadening that and taking that even further, so it’s not just collaboration between education and performance or education and exhibitions, but collaboration across the institution with the exhibition as the hub.”
Specifically, Hanner will oversee the Artist-in-Residence program and lead the cross-departmental exhibition team, which tackles the whole exhibition process—“from the moment it becomes an idea in the curator’s head to the time it gets mounted on our walls and even a bit afterwards.” For example, the team recently convened to discuss “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s,” a massive show opening in February. “So, [I’m] watching all the moving parts,” Hanner says. And she’s attending to some “not entirely sexy” details, too—“which artists are coming to town, and when are they coming to town, and who’s coordinating that.”
Before the “convergence” position was formalized, Hanner stepped up to lead the Mark Bradford Project, bringing people together from across the museum to collaborate on and discuss the Los Angeles artist’s yearlong residency. Now, projects like that are her full-time job. “This convergence is part of our commitment to being more artist-activated and audience-engaged,” she says. “We want to do more things that cross boundaries, that don’t necessarily logically live in a particular department but need to live somewhere.”