Kent State University Museum Names a New Director

The Kent State University Museum has tapped Sarah Spinner Liska as its new leader.

She will officially become the museum’s director on July 1 at the public research university in Kent, Ohio. When she does, Spinner Liska will oversee the museum’s operations, including curatorial decisions, exhibitions, educational programs and community outreach initiatives.

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An inclusivity-minded creative, she was most recently managing director of Front International, a Northeast Ohio regional contemporary art triennial. Spinner Liska developed partnerships and worked with museums, universities, artists and funders. She also championed WAGE [Working Artists and the Greater Economy] certification and led an award-winning accessibility initiative to open art access to people of all abilities.

The Canadian-born creative is a recipient of the Ohio Museums Association’s “Professional of the Year” award for her work advancing museums and arts organizations across the region.

In February, Front announced that its 2025 edition of the free public art exhibition in Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin was being canceled and would permanently wind down.

Reached Monday, Spinner Liska highlighted her plans at Kent State University. She said, “I will prioritize inclusivity at all levels of the museum, from welcoming visitors into the physical space to the exhibitions program to the mannequins we use for displays.”

Another priority, she said, is to engage in “immediate efforts to upgrade facilities to preserve the museum’s historic 30,000-item collection,” which she described as “one of the world’s most important collections of historic dress, fashion and textiles, ranging from the 17th century to today.”

Looking ahead, the museum plans to cull from its holdings of Katharine Hepburn’s collection from her estate. This summer the Oscar-winning actress’ style will be celebrated with an exhibition, “The Hepburn Style: Katharine and Her Designers. The show is being organized by collections manager and registrar Joanne Fenn and will run through May 25, 2025.

George Platt Lynes, Katharine Hepburn.
A George Platt Lynes photo of Katharine Hepburn.

Next year the Kent State University Museum will open a major international loan exhibition, “A Meeting of Cultures: Fashioning North Africa.” That will blend contemporary fashion from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. It is being orchestrated by curator Sara Hume and will bow on Feb. 7 and will wind down on Dec. 7, 2025.

Spinner Liska said she was looking forward to building upon her predecessor Sarah Rogers’ legacy and “expanding access and inclusivity within the museum’s renowned collection of fashion, textiles and decorative arts.”

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