University Art Museum director is out just days before opening of groundbreaking exhibit

In a statement released this week, the dean of Cal State Long Beach’s College of the Arts announced that Kimberli Meyer will no longer serve as the director of the University Art Museum.

The news comes unexpectedly, just days before the opening of artist lauren woods’ American MONUMENT on Sunday, set to be a groundbreaking exhibit marking a major shift in vision for the museum toward becoming a more socially active and experimental arts institution. (woods stylizes her name as entirely lowercase.)

Former director of the University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach, Kimberli Meyer. Photo courtesy of CSULB.

“She [Meyer] has been an asset to the museum and to the university in so many ways, and I am grateful for her work that has helped expand the visibility of the museum in the community,” dean Cyrus Parker-Jeannette said in a statement. “This includes partnering with me on strategic ways to expand the museum’s mission and reach into the Long Beach and Los Angeles community, and for her intelligent pursuit of intersecting the museum with academic units across our campus.”

No reason has been provided as to why Meyer is no longer with the museum.

Meyer did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication. Amanda Fruta, communications specialist for the museum, said she cannot comment on personnel matters.

In 2016 Meyer left nearly 15 years directing the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood to take on the role of UAM director.

Meyer told the Los Angeles Times then that one of her reasons for starting at the on-campus art institution included that “university museums play an important role as an independent, academic space that really can dig into issues and encourage critical thinking in ways that private museums cannot.”

In an earlier interview with the Long Beach Post about American MONUMENT, Meyer said she felt that “justice should be a more central component of how we think about museum practice.”

American MONUMENT stands as a visual marker of Meyers’ guidance in redirecting the museum to question cultural conditions. Central to woods’ work is an interactive sound installation offering dialogue recordings from case testimonies regarding African-Americans who have lost their lives to police violence.

Parker-Jeannette urged museum-goers to attend the exhibits’ opening reception despite the news, stating, “we hope to see you there to experience this immersive new media installation about language, law, violence and race.”

The dean and College of the Arts Administrative Services Manager Chanel Acker will manage the museum while seeking an interim director.

The launch of American MONUMENT is Sunday, September 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. Learn more about the UAM here.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.