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Andrea Karnes, The Modern

Meet The Modern’s Andrea Karnes

Senior curator Andrea Karnes tells us she loves about working at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and raising her two children in the art world.

DFWChild editors first spoke with the Andrea Karnes, now senior curator for the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in 2010 when her kids Elliott and Ivy were 6 and 4. We look back at our original interview with Karnes and marvel at her rise in the ranks, from receptionist in 1989 to today in her most senior position yet at the prestigious institution she’s called home for more than 30 years. Read on to learn more about why she loves about working at The Modern and what it’s been like to raise her two children in the art world.

Fast Facts

Job Senior curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Lives in and hails from Fort Worth
Alma mater art history degrees from University of North Texas (bachelor’s) and Texas Christian University (master’s)
Children Elliot and Ivy, now a senior and junior in high school
Where to find her On Instagram, (her life) @karnesees and (her work) @themodernfw

One-on-One with Andrea Karnes

Career path:
Born and raised in Cowtown, Karnes didn’t stray far when it came time for her to obtain a college degree in art history. Immediately upon graduating, the University of North Texas alumni snagged a job as a receptionist at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. She worked her way up to research assistant and registrar while getting her master’s degree at Texas Christian University, then to curator and now senior curator.

Her workday:
“Getting out of the house in the morning can be crazy. I get up with the kids and get them dressed, fed, and take them to school. Then, I quickly go home and shower before leaving for work. I’m the queen of getting ready in 20 minutes! Most days are spent planning upcoming exhibitions, organizing shows or mapping out an installation for a show. And there are times (like when an artist is in town) that my days and nights can become busy.”

Most people don’t know that a curator…
“Comes up with an idea for an exhibition and finds a way to make it happen. That means I figure out how to borrow private works and negotiate with whoever owns the work around the world. I also spend a lot of time researching and writing the catalogs that go along with each exhibition.”

Most challenging and rewarding aspect of her job:
“I find it a challenge to write [the exhibition brochures], but the most thrilling aspect of my job is traveling across the world to view art and figuring out what I want to bring to Fort Worth.”

How her kids view her job:
“They love it! They spend a lot of time at the museum. My son Elliot loves to give tours; he can point out his favorite works and talk about the artists. The museum isn’t a children’s museum by design … I’ve been around this art all of my adult life, so I choose to expose my kids to it. It does bring up questions, but I know how to talk to them and discuss what they see. Kids have no inhibitions and the best imaginations. Discussing the art in the building is a really great bonding opportunity.”

Photo courtesy of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

How she encourages art education:
“I keep things age-appropriate; they know all about scale, perspective, 2D, 3D … the basics at their ages. My daughter’s school visits the museum once a year (she loves it because she’s taking her friends to see her mommy’s work), but now my focus is on trying to sway my son’s school into making an annual trip, too!”

Her parenting style:
“For me, motherhood is a learn-as-you-go experience. I think I’m the organizer. [I] make sure there’s a healthy mix of fun and getting the things we need to do accomplished. And, I try to make sure I take care of the things that are important to me, like my yoga classes.”

Greatest challenge of motherhood:
“It’s tough to balance my own ambitions for my career and my ambitions as a mom. The two often go in their separate directions. I’ve made some decisions early on as a mother that have helped me get to a place where I’m comfortable with the balance. I’m sure that balance is something that always will need re-evaluation, but at least for now I can feel good about it.”

This article was first published in March 2010.

RELATED: More Moms Who Know Good Art
Jessica Nowitzki, president of the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, former associate director of The Goss-Michael Foundation
Kelly Cornell, director of the Dallas Art Fair

Visit the Modern

Check at special exhibitions on view or come during family-friendly programs, such as Drawing from the Collection for Children, an artist-led drawing lesson in the galleries for kids 5–12.

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is located at 3200 Darnell Street in the Fort Worth Cultural District; 817/738-9215; themodern.org.

Admission includes entrance to permanent collection exhibitions, all special and traveling exhibitions, and scheduled tours and gallery programs: $16 adults; $12 seniors, military and first responders; $10 students; free for children under 18; free for Modern members. Museum admission is free on Friday and half price on Sunday. Access to the Grand Lobby, Café Modern, and the Modern Shop is always free.

Top image courtesy of Andrea Karnes