In October 2021, Diane Gutenkauf joined the KAM staff as Sr. Assistant Director of Operations and Strategy.
Museum Director Jon Seydl welcomed Diane enthusiastically.
"We are excited to bring someone to the KAM team with such an expansive vision when it comes to museum operations. Diane’s substantial work around equity, inclusion – and especially accessibility – is particularly welcome, and her experience in government relations and strategic planning will be critical in meeting our goals to weave KAM even more into the campus and our region."
We decided to sit down for an interview with Diane to ask a few questions about the way she's envisioning her new role at the University of Illinois.
KAM: Tell us a little about your background. It's our understanding that you've worked in a variety of museum and non-profit roles. How does your experience help you frame the difference you can make at KAM?
DG: My museum career has been quite varied, ranging from curatorial and collections management positions in history and ethnographic museums, to exhibition development and oversight at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, to department head and Executive Director positions.
I’ve also served the museum profession as a board member for the Midwest Registrars Committee, the National Association for Museum Exhibition, and the Illinois Association of Museums.
I am excited to combine different aspects of my career in this new role at KAM. As Executive Director of the Ella Sharp Museum, I was able to engage new community groups with the museum and to think about the museum’s role as place for centering community stories. I look forward to being part of similar conversations at KAM.
KAM: What excites you the most about coming to work at KAM and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign?
DG: Bringing many of my experiences and skills together in one place. I’ve been fortunate to work in different kinds of museums—local history, historic house, natural history, living collections, and multidisciplinary museums—and to hold positions within these museums. This is the first position I’ve held at a university museum.
Although I oversaw a multidisciplinary museum that included art exhibitions and collections, this is the first time I’ve been in a leadership position at a dedicated art museum. I love walking through the galleries every day, surrounded by collections that both inspire and challenge me. I am excited to learn more about the museum’s collections and programs and the community we serve.
As an Illinois native, I’m also thrilled to return to my home state. I spent much of my childhood visiting my grandparents, who lived in Danforth, a small town about an hour north of Champaign. The local landscape feels familiar and comfortable and it’s nice to be back here. Although I am not an Illini, both my mother and my husband attended the U of I. My mother received her MA in Special Education in the mid-1950s, and my husband earned a BS in the mid-1980s. He loves being back in Champaign.
KAM: Are there unique aspects to the way you work that you feel will be useful as you get started at KAM?
DG: I approach projects as a part of a team, and I believe in sharing authority and in operating transparently. I hope to approach all my work collaboratively.
We hope you'll join us in welcoming Diane Gutenkauf to the Krannert Art Museum staff. If you'd like to contact Diane to welcome her, to make a suggestion, or to ask a question, please visit our Contact Us page.