Native American Art curator departs Minneapolis Institute of Art

Jill Ahlberg Yohe, the former Minneapolis Institute of Art associate curator of Native American Art, is the latest curator to depart the museum. As of Monday, she left her job at Mia and, according to her LinkedIn profile, has become a freelance Native Art consultant.

This news comes on the heels of the Jan. 9 firing of curator Bob Cozzolino and criticism centered on working conditions at the institute.

A joint statement Monday by Mia said that a voluntary separation package “reflects a mutually respectful and carefully considered process between both parties and contemplates Jill’s desire to pursue a new opportunity that more closely aligns with her long-term goals.”

“We recognize the nearly decade of service and dedication that Jill has contributed to Mia and to the field as a whole,” Mia Director and President Katie Luber said. “We are grateful for Jill’s work with us to transition her role, and we are excited about the potential candidates as we launch the search for a new curator of Native American art.”

Known for her instrumental curatorial work, the groundbreaking 2019 exhibition “Hearts of Our People” and the 2023 Native photography show “In Our Hands,” Ahlberg Yohe worked at Mia for nearly 10 years. She started as an assistant curator and rose to an associate curator.

“I am immensely thankful to everyone who has supported my work and the Native art programs at Mia during my tenure, and I’m looking forward to my new journey ahead,” Ahlberg Yohe said in the joint statement. “Mia has a wonderful history of collecting and presenting Native American art, and I know its future will be just as exciting.”

Molly Thul of OPEIU, the union representing Mia workers, said in the joint statement: “OPEIU is pleased that its member, Jill Ahlberg Yohe, was able to work on Native American art at Mia for almost a decade, and that both Dr. Ahlberg Yohe and Mia will continue their commitment to that important component of American art despite going their separate ways.”

Alicia Eler is the Star Tribune’s visual art reporter and critic, and author of the book “The Selfie Generation. | Pronouns: she/they ”