Prior to his arrival in Colorado, Lerner served as Curator of the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore. Previously, he was a pre-doctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, specializing in 20th-century American sculpture.
“I’m honored to take the helm of Palm Springs Art Museum as the institution and the region are both on course for tremendous growth” Lerner says. “I am looking forward to building on the success of my predecessors, and cultivating a dynamic and inclusive institution that is relevant not only to the art world but also to everyone who lives in the Coachella Valley.”
Executive Vice Chair Craig Hartzman, who led the search committee for this position, noted: “We are delighted that Adam will be joining Palm Springs Art Museum as its new executive director at this important moment. The committee identified and evaluated an impressive group of candidates nationwide; Adam stood out as an exceptional museum professional known for his many talents, including his creativity and innovative programming, his mentorship of staff and colleagues, and his highly effective working relationships with board and community members. Adam’s broad spectrum of knowledge and his keen interest in popular contemporary culture will serve both the museum and the community at large very well.”
At MCA Denver, Lerner developed an institution that combined scholarly exhibitions with an inviting energy that attracted wide audiences. Having taken over just after the completion of the museum’s new building, he tripled attendance within ten years, doubled the operating budget, and attracted large numbers of visitors through robust public programming. Placing a strong emphasis on Mexican and Latinx art and culture, he transformed the institution into one of the premier showcases for contemporary Mexican art among U.S. museums. This lively mix of programming helped cultivate the next generation of museum goers, making unprecedented inroads with the previously under-represented 25-34-year-old audience, who became the museum’s largest demographic group.
Under his leadership, MCA Denver earned a leadership role among peers by producing groundbreaking exhibitions traveling to multiple venues, including an exhibition of early Jean-Michel Basquiat works that had never been exhibited in a museum previously, and the first museum survey exhibition of artist Senga Nengudi. MCA Denver also developed a major career retrospective of Mark Mothersbaugh and co-produced the retrospective of Marilyn Minter, both of which traveled to art museums throughout the country. In addition to presenting the work of emerging and established contemporary artists, Lerner has consistently presented unconventional art museum subjects, such as the early history of graffiti writing, Emory Douglas’ illustrations for the Black Panther newspaper, and the everyday spectacles of the 1970s theatrical group the Cockettes.
Lerner and his life partner, Melissa Shelton, will reside in Palms Springs beginning in August.
For more information about Palm Springs Art Museum exhibitions, programs, and events, please visit psmuseum.org or call (760) 322-4800.