UCSC taps Tang Museum director to lead innovative museum project

John Weber named as founding director to develop new Institute for Arts & Sciences

John Weber
John Weber

The UC Santa Cruz Arts Division announced today that John Weber—currently Dayton Director of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York—has been hired to guide the development of a new institute of the arts and sciences.

Conceived as more than a museum, the institute will be designed to function as an intellectual hub for visiting faculty, UCSC faculty, and artists, scientists and humanists-in-residence, as well as provide space for site-specific installations, seminars, events, and hands-on research.

With a national and international scope, the institute will also host traveling art exhibitions and create targeted curatorial projects linked to the university curriculum by drawing from the rich archives and collections of all of the UC campuses.

“The institute will be the first of its kind at a research university focusing on the relationship between the arts and sciences,“ noted David Yager, dean of the Arts Division at UC Santa Cruz.

“The exciting part about hiring John Weber from the Tang Museum—one of the country’s top university teaching museums—is that we have set the solid foundation for the building of the Institute of Arts and Sciences,” Yager added.

Director of the Tang Museum since 2004, Weber oversees all staff, exhibitions, programs, collections, and the Tang web site, in addition to curating exhibitions, and writing for museum publications.

He was previously the Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 1993 to 2004, where he spearheaded the architectural design program for SFMOMA’s Koret Visitor Education Center, founded the museum’s interactive educational technologies program, and co-curated exhibitions.

Weber also served as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon from 1987 to 1993.  

“The chance to play a central role in the creation of a new institute, its architecture, and its programs, is an amazing opportunity,” said Weber. “And to do this within the innovative educational environment of UC Santa Cruz makes this truly an irresistible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he added.

As the new director of the institute, Weber’s job is to collaboratively provide the strategic leadership, creativity, vision, and management expertise to guide the new project from its current concept phase to the next level of development.

In partnership with the dean of the arts and campus leadership, Weber will develop and implement a strategic fundraising campaign for the institute, and will be responsible for its curatorial vision and architectural program, as well as the programming and educational outreach to establish the institute as a major cultural, educational, and civic resource for the community.

“This is a fantastic, concrete step forward in the creation of UCSC’s Institute of Arts and Sciences,” noted Greg Laughlin, professor and chair of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department at UC Santa Cruz.

“This project leverages our campus’s core intellectual strengths, and it takes full advantage of our matchless location for learning and inspiration,” he added.

Weber holds a B.A. in studio art from Reed College, and an M.F.A. in visual art from the University of California, San Diego, where he began his career as a studio artist. He has also taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College, the University of Washington, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Weber will begin work at UC Santa Cruz on January 1.