María C. Gaztambide to Depart Public Art University of Houston System; Named Executive Director at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

by Jessica Fuentes June 13, 2023

Para leer este artículo en español, por favor vaya aquí. To read this article in Spanish, please go here.

María C. Gaztambide, the Executive Director and Chief Curator of Public Art University of Houston System (Public Art UHS), will leave the organization later this summer to become the Executive Director of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.

A headshot of director and curator María C Gaztambide.

María C Gaztambide

Ms. Gaztambide joined Public Art UHS in 2018, when the university launched a new version of the program. In her position, she oversees the exhibitions, commissions, and acquisitions of public art, as well as educational and public programs. In the last five years, she has brought in works by artists such as Marta Chilindrón, Dorothy Hood, Rick Lowe, Margo Sawyer, Shahzia Sikander, Leo Villareal, and Andy Warhol. Last year, under Ms. Gaztambide’s direction, Public Art UHS unveiled Folly, a significant temporary installation by Mexico-based Cuban-American artist Jorge Pardo.

A photograph of the interior of a public art work by Jorge Pardo. The inside of this building is filled with colorful patterned paintings on the wall and has three vibrant and whimsical sculptures hanging from the ceiling.

Jorge Pardo, “Folly,” 2022.

Prior to joining Public Art UHS, Ms. Gaztambide was the Associate Director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a position she held for twelve years. Previous roles include: Curator at Woldenberg Art Center at Tulane University in New Orleans (2002-2006), Curatorial and Administrative Consultant for Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (1997-1999), and Field Researcher and Project Manager at the Archives of American Art (1997-1999). Ms. Gaztambide holds a PhD in Latin American Studies, MA degrees in Art History and Arts Administration, and a BS in Management, all of which she earned from Tulane University. 

Following her undergraduate degree, Ms. Gaztambide was a consultant for the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in the years leading up to its opening. Now, 25 years later, she is returning to the island where she was born to work for an organization that she helped bring to fruition.

Speaking about the museum, Ms. Gaztambide told Glasstire, “It opened in 2000, as a government-operated museum, with more than 100 employees. Then, the government went bankrupt in 2014 and then tack on to that: Hurricane Maria in 2017, the [COVID-19] pandemic, and then [more recently], earthquakes. But, I’m looking forward to being able to build up the institution and maximize what it can be today, given the difficulties that the island is still dealing with.”

Last month, Public Art UHS posted a listing for its Executive Director and Chief Curator position. The listing has since been removed, as the organization is in the process of interviewing applicants. Ms. Gaztambide will assist with the transition of the new hire and will likely relocate and officially begin her new position in August. 

Of her time at Public Art UHS, Ms. Gaztambide said, “I am incredibly proud of the work we have done at the University of Houston System. It was a process that involved changing the mindset of what we could do with this collection to increase [the] impact of these works. We have proven that we are able to do a number of things that were unimaginable not that long ago. I am really proud of the team that I am leaving behind. They have grown into their roles, we’ve hired new people, and we have an active and robust series of programs both on the exhibition and commissioning side, but also on the public outreach and education side.”

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Concerned June 13, 2023 - 14:21

I’ve noticed the use of titles to address people; Mrs., Ms., Mr. This is a vestige of journalism past, and can lead to the author misgendering individuals, as I’ve read in some of Glasstire’s articles over the past year. I’d suggest your team just use a person’s last name to ensure a more professional tone.


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