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Jim Leija appointed UMMA deputy director of public experience and learning in Ann Arbor

Mark di Suvero's sculpture Shang stands tall outside of the UMMA. Photo | Sarah M. Parlette
Mark di Suvero's sculpture Shang stands tall outside of the UMMA. Photo | Sarah M. Parlette

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor has appointed Jim Leija, a noted art educator, to the position of deputy director of public experience and learning. 

Effective Sept. 9, Leija will be responsible for the oversight of public experiences at the UMMA as well as the strategic direction for public experience and learning. In his role, Leija is expected to curate spaces related to the museum as well as partner with community groups and engage diverse audiences within the public. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Jim Leija to UMMA,” said director Christina Olsen. 

“He has deep experience partnering with communities on creative projects that address urgent issues, and exploring the intersections of theatrical and visual artist practice and spaces. His background will benefit the museum tremendously as it seeks to imagine in new ways the role of a dynamic campus museum at a world-class university.” 

Since 2011, Leija has held the position of director of education and community engagement at the University Musical Society. Under his direction, the UMS produced “Day of Action” in Flint with Yo-Yo Ma and increased participation of school performances in the University of Michigan Credit Union Arts Adventures program. 

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With the UMS, Leija also co-curated “No Safety Net,” a theater series focused on social issues. He has also worked on related public programs and workshops as well as designed two educational and performance residences at the New York Philharmonic.  He worked with the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts in launching an arts-academic integration program. 

“It’s a privilege to be joining UMMA,” said Leija. “My career has been dedicated to making the arts accessible to everyone, and I look forward to helping shape the Museum as an even more inclusive, diverse and welcoming place.

 “I see an incredible opportunity to grow UMMA’s core programs around arts and ideas, creativity and social impact. I’m excited to work with the UMMA team to bring communities together, encourage empathy and understanding through the arts and shift perspectives on a whole range of concerns.”

To learn more about Leija and his appointment, visit the museum's website.  

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