Welcome to our Interim Director Dr Holly Arden

30 Mar 2022
Holly standing next to an artwork and smiling at the camera
Dr Holly Arden. Photo: Josef Ruckli. Artwork details: Izabela Pluta, "Variable depth, shallow water" (detail), 2020. Installation view, "Oceanic Thinking", UQ Art Museum, 2022. 

It is with great pleasure that we introduce Dr Holly Arden as our Interim Director. Holly will guide us through 2022 and continue to be a driving force behind our upcoming program of powerful exhibitions, teaching and learning initiatives, events, and partnerships.

Holly has 20 years’ industry experience as a curator and tertiary educator. She completed her PhD in Art History and Theory at Monash University, and as a scholar her research has been focused on ‘the public’ for contemporary art; she has a deep interest in art museums and their audiences, and in the opportunities for critical dialogue between the two.

Holly is already familiar to many in our community. She has been an integral part of the team since 2016, most recently as our Associate Director, where she led education, programming and visitor engagement activities. In this period, she has overseen a dramatic shift toward multi-year programming that has enhanced our engagement with the University’s researchers, as well as the introduction of our industry-leading Cultural Mediation practice.

Together with former Director Dr Campbell Gray, who retired earlier this month, Holly has also fostered a culture in which ambitious goals are pursued within an ethos of respect and kindness. As a training institution, UQ students joining us for internships or visitor engagement positions are often in their very first roles in the sector: Holly is passionate about ensuring their experience is a positive one that they will remember fondly and be inspired by as they pursue their own career goals.

As Associate Director, Holly spearheaded the recruitment of several key senior management roles, and ensured that the Art Museum was able to boldly pursue its purpose despite the instability wrought by COVID-19. Two of these roles – our Education Manager and Curatorial-Researcher-in-Residence – were the Art Museum’s first philanthropically-funded positions.

In her earlier role as Senior Education Manager, Holly worked to share and consolidate her vision for an institution where learning through art enables students from diverse disciplinary areas to develop increased capacity for critical thinking, creativity, empathy, and considering ethical implications. In this role, she also built important relationships across the University that we continue to grow today.

We are thrilled that Holly’s steadfast hand will be guiding us over the course of what has already proven to be a tumultuous year in the global community, and with her encouraging approach to engagement, opportunity and big ideas there’s no telling what wonderful things we will be able to achieve.