Decker named museum CEO

Posted on November 13, 2013 

 Julie Decker has been appointed the new director the Anchorage Museum, a position she held on an interim basis after the departure of former director, James Pepper Henry, in August.

Decker is a former gallery owner and herself an artist. She has written several books and exhibit catalogues addressing art in Alaska ranging from “Icebreakers: Alaska’s Most Innovative Artists,” a compendium of Alaskans working in wild modern art forms, to the companion book to an exhibit about the humble, utilitarian Quonset hut, “Quonset: Metal Living for a Modern Age.” 

As a curator at the museum, she has overseen several shows aimed at children, exhibits about Andy Warhol and Alaskan sculptor John Hoover, the recent “Arctic Flight: A Century of Alaska Aviation” and “True North: Contemporary Art of the Circumpolar North,” which featured the work of international artists. She also curated “This is Not A Silent Movie: Four Contemporary Alaska Native Artists” for the Craft and Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles.

Decker has been the main proponent of the museum’s Northern Initiative, an exploration of northern culture and environment through exhibitions, scholarship and community activities. Prior to Henry’s departure she held the position of the museum’s chief curator.

In addition to serving as the director of the city-owned museum, she will also be the chief executive officer of the Anchorage Museum Association, the nonprofit group that operates the museum under contract with the municipality.  

Decker will be formally welcomed into her new role as CEO at a community reception in December. 

The following is the press release from the museum announcing Decker's appointment:

The Anchorage Museum Association (AMA) Board of Directors has named Julie Decker as director of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.

Decker, former Anchorage Museum chief curator, replaces James Pepper Henry, who took a director position at Phoenix’s Heard Museum in August. Decker served as interim director following Pepper Henry’s departure.

 Decker was selected to head the museum after an international search conducted by m/Oppenheim Associates of San Francisco. She will serve as both chief executive officer of the nonprofit AMA and director of the city-owned museum.

“We are very pleased Julie Decker is stepping into this role, and we believe she has the experience, leadership ability and commitment to the community to guide the museum into an exciting future,” said AMA Board Chair Susan Knowles. “Julie’s international connections and extensive curatorial background combined with her long history initiating innovative Anchorage Museum programs and exhibitions made her the standout choice. She will lead the museum beyond its recent expansion to position it as a key cultural institution in the Circumpolar North and a leader for discussions of the North throughout the world.” 

Before joining the museum as chief curator in 2011, Decker curated numerous major exhibitions at the Anchorage Museum, including “Andy Warhol: Manufactured,” “Quonset: Metal Living for a Modern Age,” “John Hoover: Art and Life” and an annual series of exhibitions in the museum’s former children’s gallery.

She has authored numerous exhibition catalogues and publications, including “Gyre: The Plastic Ocean,” “Alaska and the Airplane,” “From Canvas to Steel: The Architecture of Ed Crittenden and Alaska,” and “Found and Assembled in Alaska.”

She was a member of the committee that oversaw the museum expansion and after joining the museum staff, curated the major exhibitions “Arctic Flight: A Century of Alaska Aviation,” “True North: Contemporary Art of the Circumpolar North,” and “This is Not A Silent Movie: Four Contemporary Alaska Native Artists,” which debuted at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles.

Decker envisioned the museum’s Northern Initiative, which combines exhibitions, scholarship, public programming and community outreach to explore the current and future state of the North through culture, community and the environment.

She previously owned and ran Decker/Morris Gallery in Anchorage and was an instructor for the University of Alaska. She has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. She holds a Ph.D. in contemporary art history, criticism and management from Union Institute and University and a master’s degree in arts administration from Golden Gate University. Her work as an artist has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions throughout Alaska and is in the Anchorage Museum collection. 


Decker will be formally welcomed into her new role as CEO at a community reception in December. 

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