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Block Museum Names New Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts

Michelle Puetz will join Block’s curatorial team from Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

  • Puetz possesses an ideal balance of film knowledge and museum curatorial experience
  • Curator, film historian, educator, expert on projection and preservation to lead Block Cinema
  • Her wide-ranging knowledge of moving images to give a fresh curatorial vision to position

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University has announced that Michelle Puetz, 2013-15 Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), will join the museum on July 13, 2015, as Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts.

Puetz brings wide-ranging knowledge of moving images from classic film to experimental video, extensive programming experience and a fresh curatorial vision to this position. As Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts, she will guide the presentation of “time-based media” (contemporary artworks that include film, video, slides, audio or computer-based technologies) at the Block Museum in a variety of contexts, including Block Cinema and the museum’s galleries, and she will develop innovative programs related to time-based media.

“Michelle Puetz possesses an ideal balance of film knowledge and museum curatorial experience,” said Kathleen Bickford Berzock, associate director of curatorial affairs at the Block Museum. “With her global focus and deep commitment to collaboration and interdisciplinary connections, Michelle’s practice matches our mission. We are confident that she will help us revolutionize the presentation of film and time-based media in the museum.”

Puetz’s vast experience includes curating moving-image installations; programming film and performance that complements museum exhibitions; acquiring and archiving time-based media works; speaking at lectures and conferences; teaching and writing; and working at film festivals. 

At the MCA, Puetz embarked upon a variety of initiatives that exemplify her expanded practice and capacity as a curator of media arts. She curated the recent exhibition, “Body Doubles,” which included two large-scale video installations, an artists’ publication and numerous companion screenings and events. In 2013, she curated an exhibition of new work by artist Lilli Carré that featured ceramic sculptures, drawings and a double projection video installation. She collaborated with the library and archives staff on a large-scale video digitization project and was the lead researcher for the MCA’s 2013 artist-in-residence, Goshka Macuga. Puetz also organized the Chicago premiere screening of Leslie Buchbinder’s documentary, “Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists” in 2014.

“Having moved fluidly between the categories of scholar, curator, teacher, programmer, archivist and projectionist, I look forward to bringing these skills together at the Block, which is in the unique position to expand the definition of film programming and curation,” Puetz said. “I am excited to develop time-based media programs and exhibitions that are global in scope, expansive in their embrace of genre, history and style, and push the boundaries and possibilities of the museum.”

Prior to her work at the MCA, Puetz served as director of programming and archivist for The Chicago Film Archives, a non-profit regional film archive (2004-13). She has worked at the Sundance Film Festival (2007-13), the Traverse City Film Festival (2007-14), the Tribeca Film Festival (2008) and the Dubai International Film Festival (2006-07), among others.

Puetz is an active educator, teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 2008 in the departments of film, video, new media and animation and art history, theory and criticism; as well as at the University of Illinois at Chicago as an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Art and Design. 

“Michelle Puetz has vision,” said James J. Hodge, assistant professor of English and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. “An experienced curator, film historian and projectionist, I can think of no individual better suited to leading Block Cinema into the 21st century while continuing to value the moving image and its historical relation to the arts. Her passion for emerging artists, experimental arts, and for forging ties to faculty and community interests will catalyze an exciting new era for cinema at Northwestern.”

Puetz received a Ph.D., in cinema and media studies, Division of the Humanities from the University of Chicago in 2012. She attended the graduate program in visual and cultural studies, department of art and art history at the University of Rochester from 2000-01, and she obtained a bachelor of fine arts from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (1999).

“The Block, like Northwestern University, is on the move and Michelle will have a shaping impact on the museum’s future artistic program, connecting the galleries and Block Cinema as never before,” said Lisa Corrin, the Ellen Philips Katz Director of the Block Museum. “She is committed to artists working with moving images in Chicago and internationally, and we are all looking forward to new partnerships between the museum and this extraordinary global community of artists and innovators expanding the possibilities of media arts.”


The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University is committed to presenting art across time, place, culture and media and to considering art from interdisciplinary perspectives. It serves the academic and cultural needs of the University and Chicago-area community with thought-provoking exhibitions, a rich and diverse permanent collection, dynamic programs and classic and contemporary film screenings at Block Cinema.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2015, the Block is a dynamic, imaginative teaching and learning resource that aims to inspire a new generation of artists, scholars and arts professionals. Admission is free and open to all, and visitors are invited to participate in experiential learning opportunities that bridge the classroom and the world beyond the campus.

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