MacArthur Fellows Program

Fred Wilson

Installation Artist | Class of 1999

Installation Artist
New York, New York
45 at time of award
Area of Focus
3-D Visual Art
Published July 1, 1999

About Fred's Work

Fred Wilson, an installation artist, explores the relationship between museums, works of art, and other collections.

Metaphors of mining and excavation are central to Wilson’s process, as he combines forgotten objects in archives and forgotten ideas of curators and artists. He rearranges museum displays and reclaims pieces from museum storage to bring out hidden or neglected possibilities, and to create new installations that highlight important social and cultural themes. Wilson's comprehensive exhibition entitled “Mining the Museum,” at the Maryland Historical Society (1992), has become a model for the interaction of curators and museum audiences. Additionally, his work opens the museum to new audiences and provides seasoned visitors with new experiences.


Before he established his artistic practice, Wilson worked as a freelance educator in various museums in New York, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History. He has since worked with more than twenty institutions, rearranging and reinterpreting their collections to reveal hidden biases and ideologies.Solo exhibitions of his work have appeared at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum. Wilson works independently in New York City.

Wilson received a B.F.A. (1976) from the State University of New York, Purchase.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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