A highly respected member of the museum community, Paul C. Ha has over twenty-five years of professional experience in the visual arts, building institutions, artists’ careers and contributing new scholarship in the shifting landscape of contemporary art. Ha’s expertise includes museum administration, fundraising, fiscal stability and curating, and he is widely recognized among artists, patrons and art professionals for his accessibility and commitment to the visual arts.
Paul C. Ha is the Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) List Visual Arts Center. The List Visual Arts Center is the contemporary art museum at MIT. MIT is respected the world over for its creative research at the intersections of art, science and technology, and the List thrives upon and reflects MIT’s inventive culture. The List is well recognized for presenting experimental and timely exhibitions, accompanied by a wide range of educational programs and publications, and is an artist-centric museum known for singling out and exhibiting artists early in their careers. As noted in the The New York Times, “Mr. Ha has a long track record of supporting artists, whether drawing attention to their work later in their careers or recognizing their talent at the start.” Artists exhibited during Ha’s tenure include Rosa Barba, Thea Djordjadze, Joan Jonas, Tala Madani, Hans Op de Beeck, Amalia Pica, Katrin Sigurdardottir, and Anicka Yi.
The List works with three distinct art collections at MIT: MIT’s Percent-for-Art program including its collection of public art, one of the most outstanding public art collections in the United States; the permanent collection of more than 3500 artworks; and the innovative and popular student loan art collection of over 600 works, wherein students can borrow a work of art to hang in their dorm room or graduate off campus housing.
In 2015, Ha was the commissioner and co-curator of the United States Pavilion at the La Biennale di Venezia 56th International Art Exhibition, presenting artist Joan Jonas. The pavilion was Co-curated with Ute Meta Bauer, Director at the Centre for Contemporary Art at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Titled They Come to Us without a Word, Jonas’ achievement at the Biennale was widely revered, and received the newly created, Special Award.
The List in 2015, commissioned acclaimed artist Lawrence Weiner to create A TRANSLATION FROM ONE LANGUAGE TO ANOTHER, a year-long public site specific mural installation produced in partnership with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy for downtown Boston’s Dewey Square.
Previous to the List, Ha was the founding director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) 2002-2011, where he completed the construction and opening of the new building designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture. As the inaugural director, Ha quickly positioned the CAM to be a leader in the field of contemporary art, garnering national and international recognition for its exhibitions and programming, while simultaneously initiating programs to engage the greater St. Louis community. During Ha’s tenure at CAM, a number of artists received the first major museum exhibition of their careers at CAM, including Laylah Ali, Lutz Bacher, Yun-Fei Ji, David Noonan, and Gedi Sibony. Additional artists exhibited include Chantal Akerman, Polly Apfelbaum, Richard Artschwager, Slater Bradley, Jim Hodges, Maya Lin, Olivier Mosset, Yoshitomo Nara, William Pope.L and Cindy Sherman. Under Ha’s leadership, CAM produced 92 exhibitions and brought 223 artists to St. Louis. Prior to joining the Contemporary, Ha was the Deputy Director of Programs and External Affairs at the Yale University Art Gallery and Executive Director of White Columns in New York.
During his career, Ha has overseen three major capital campaigns (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Yale University Art Gallery, and White Columns), and has a proven track record of strengthening institutions, ensuring stability and a sound fiscal legacy. His tenure at CAM is marked by numerous accomplishments, including raising more than $40 million for the institution and establishing a $5 million endowment, the museum’s first. In 2007 Ha completed a $20 million capital campaign leaving the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis debt free.
Additional accomplishments at CAM include dramatically raising the local, national, and international reputation of the museum; developing extensive collaborations, programmatic and strategic relationships with local, national and international arts organizations; reorganizing all public programs (exhibition, lectures, symposia, publication, outreach, and education) to meet new mission and identity; recruiting nationally recognized leadership and staff; and developing an active and engaged 35 member Board of Directors in addition to creating a national board of prominent art professionals.
While Executive Director of White Columns, Ha initiated and completed a major expansion project, relocating the institution to its current site, was solely responsible for all programming and financial planning, and brought financial stability to this historically important New York institution. At White Columns Ha curated more than 50 solo and group exhibitions and exhibited artists such as Sarah Sze, Christoph Büchel, Jessica Craig-Martin, Rachel Feinstein, Anna Gaskell and Aïda Ruilova early in their careers, often presenting their first solo exhibition.
Ha has lectured widely on contemporary art and museums, the emerging art scene, and the importance of not-for profits and has served as a consultant for exhibitions and institutions. Ha has served extensively on panels, an dhas been a visiting critic, lecturer, and panelist at many institutions, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and numerous colleges and universities including the Art Institute of Chicago, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Rhode Island School of Design, San Francisco Art Institute, School of Visual Arts, and Yale University.