The Mia welcomes Valéria Piccoli, its first-ever curator of Latin American art 

A person poses for a portrait
Portrait of Valeria Piccoli, Curator of Latin American Art and Head of Art of the Americas at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Courtesy of Dan Dennehy | Minneapolis Institute of Art

The Minneapolis Institute of Art has created a new position: For the first time, they will have a curator of Latin American art. After a global search, Mia tapped Valéria Piccoli, who, for the past 12 years, was the chief curator of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, one of the largest art museums in Brazil. 

Piccoli relocated to the Twin Cities in November. 

"I arrived right in time for winter,” Piccoli said. “So, it’s been really an adventure for me.” 

She says her first step in this role is to get know Mia’s collection of Latin American art as well as the local community.  

“My plan basically is, understand what the museum already has as a collection and then understand what is this Latin American community that lives around here, and then try to combine both things and really bring the ideas that can come up from this community." 

A press release from Mia stated that the new position was created to reflect “the growing Latino and Hispanic communities in the Twin Cities — as well as an awareness of a gap in the museum’s global approach to collecting and presenting art, which includes a diverse array of historical and contemporary art from across Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as Native American communities and postcolonial America.”

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The press release also states that the position is funded by a $6 million bequest by Ken and Linda Cutler 

Piccoli isn't just the institute’s first ever curator of Latin American art. She is also the inaugural Ken and Linda Cutler Chair of Arts of the Americas, a position created when Mia recently reorganized several of its collections under a new Department of Arts of the Americas. This department includes “artworks created by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from North, Central and South America, from prehistory to the present.” 

While Piccoli is still in the initial stages of developing a strategy for her department and curatorial position, she says she would like the Mia’s collection to acquire art of the early 20th-century and earlier, rather than contemporary art or late 20th-century art. For, one Mia already as a Department of Global Contemporary Art. 

"What would be more interesting would be to have a strong historical collection of Latin American art,” Piccoli says. Many other U.S. institutions have been investing in 20th-century Latin American art, she says, citing the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

“Mia has to be a little bit different from them,” she says. "So, it's a question also to understand the place that Mia can have; how Mia can be relevant in this scenario considering also other institutions in the U.S.”