Jen Mergel is a nationally respected Boston-based contemporary art curator and cultural leader working to expose her hometown’s histories and collaboratively reimagine its futures through an equity and empowerment lens. She has organized more than 50 exhibitions for museum, academic, and citywide venues. Her recent curatorial projects have focused on Boston’s Black Feminisms, Exquisite Corpse collaborations in times of pandemic, and histories of spatial justice through the 2022 Olmsted Bicentennial. From 2010 to 2017, Jen headed the Contemporary Art Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, after prior curatorial roles at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy, among others. In 2017, she left the museum context to connect art and people in public spaces. With the Emerald Necklace Conservancy in she was guest curator of the award-winning citywide 2018 exhibition “Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace.” She subsequently became the Conservancy’s inaugural Director and then Senior Advisor of Cultural Partnerships & Parks Equity and led the award-winning initiative “Olmsted Now: Greater Boston’s Olmsted Bicentennial.” As of June 2023, Jen is the new the James & Audrey Foster Executive Director of the Esplanade Association, a community non-profit that stewards over 3 miles of Boston’s iconic riverfront. With her staff and partners, she builds the Association’s capacity to co-create more impactful and inclusive park experiences through programs, plantings and projects that increase collective expression, health and access.
For VoCA, Mergel has led artist interview workshops since 2019 and served on the Program Committee since 2020. Her prior board and advisory committee work has served international and local curators through organizations including: the Association of Art Museum Curators, the Museum of Fine Arts, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, and the Boston Center for the Arts. Her prior curatorial roles have been at the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, and for the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Mergel graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University, received her master’s from Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies, is a proud Fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership (2017), and the National Collaborative for Health Equity’s Culture of Health Leadership Institute for Racial Healing (2023).Back to Leadership