P.S. 1 founding director Heiss retires after 37 yrs. at museum

Alanna Heiss, the founder and director of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center since 1971, retired Dec. 31. The center has begun a search for a new director. Photo courtesy P.S.1 by Matthew Septimus
By Jeremy Walsh

The coming of the new year brought to a close a major chapter in Long Island City’s premier art museum: P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center’s founding director Alanna Heiss retired Dec. 31 after 37 years with the organization.

As part of a merger deal that gave the Museum of Modern Art increasing financial and administrative control over P.S.1 after seven years, Heiss had been asked to retire this year by MoMA director Glenn Lowry, New York magazine reported. A search committee will be established in early 2009 to lead the search for the next director, the museum said.

“P.S.1 was founded with a particular mission, which was to allow for the discovery of many different points of view under one roof,” Heiss said in a statement. “Its special gift to those who appreciate art is its ability to mobilize artists both young and old, known and unknown, to explore their dreams and visions. The experiences I’ve had working with great curators and artists have been a tremendous honor.”

Following her retirement from P.S.1, Heiss will launch Art International Radio, an organization devoted to broadcasting artistic, musical and experimental programs, in early 2009.

“Literally hundreds of artists from around the world have felt the impact of her tireless efforts over the last 37 years, and that impact will continue to resonate with artists for years to come,” Lowry said.

Heiss founded P.S.1 in 1971 in a vacant Romanesque−style school building as part of the Institute for Art and Urban Resources, which turned abandoned spaces across the city into accessible artists’ studios and exhibition venues.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

More from Around New York