Elmhurst Art Museum's Director Moving to Haggerty Museum in Milwaukee

John McKinnon


Last month it was announced that John McKinnon, executive director of the Elmhurst Art Museum in Elmhurst, Illinois, has been named the next director of the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University in Milwaukee. McKinnon succeeds Emilia Layden, who has served as acting director since July 2023.

McKinnon will begin in the role on July 8, joining the Haggerty Museum of Art as it prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary over the course of the 2024-25 academic year. Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university located near the heart of downtown Milwaukee. 

“Following a year of strong leadership by acting director Emilia Layden, the Haggerty is entering a period of tremendous growth and opportunity,” Dr. John Su, vice provost for academic affairs and student success, said. “Our committee sought a candidate who could build on the Haggerty’s foundation of high impact academic and community engagement and take the institution to the next level. John is warm, energetic, a collaborative leader, and we’re delighted that he is joining the Marquette and Milwaukee community.”

McKinnon has 17 years of experience leading teams, managing an organization’s creative output, cultivating community support, and overseeing growth, doing so at the Elmhurst Art Museum, Society for Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. In 2022, he was featured in Newcity Design's “Design 50: The Fifty People Who Shape Chicago.”

“I admire the Haggerty Museum of Art’s nearly 40-year history as a laboratory for the Marquette campus and greater Milwaukee area with a deep commitment to transformative experiences of art and culture,” McKinnon said. “I look forward to leading this uniquely positioned and free-to-the-public institution into its next chapter.”

Over the last seven years McKinnon dynamically changed the Elmhurst Art Museum physically and philosophically. After successfully fundraising and restoring Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House, McKinnon then led efforts to better establish the organization’s identity as a center for art, architecture, and education. He successfully steered the organization through COVID closures and impacts, shepherded policies and partnerships to create a more equitable cultural space for the community, made significant facility upgrades through capital campaigns, and greatly increased the museum’s audience through the acquisition of an annual two-day arts festival.

Prior to the Elmhurst Art Museum, McKinnon was the program director of the Society for Contemporary Art, where he worked with donors and collectors to support contemporary art at the Art Institute of Chicago. He oversaw the independent nonprofit's budgets, operations, membership, programming, fundraising, marketing and art acquisitions. McKinnon also spent nearly four years at the Milwaukee Art Museum, where he oversaw several major exhibitions as assistant curator of modern and contemporary art. He also acted as the main liaison of the Contemporary Art Society, coordinating their programming and fundraisers.

McKinnon's move north will be something of a home coming, as he went to college in Madison and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor's degree in art. He then received two master’s degrees from the Art Institute of Chicago in art and arts administration.

The Haggerty Museum of Art connects people—on campus, in the community, and around the world—to art, to ideas, and to one another. The museum uses the interdisciplinary lens of art to cultivate knowledge, insight, understanding, and belonging, all in service of Marquette University’s commitment to care for the whole person.