In something of a homecoming, the former Whitney Museum executive Donna De Salvo will be returning to the Dia Art Foundation — where she worked as a curator in the 1980s — in the newly created role of senior adjunct curator, special projects, beginning in January.
Ms. De Salvo, 64, whose extensive expertise on Warhol was on view the acclaimed show of his work at the Whitney last year, is coming off 15 years at that museum, where she most recently served as deputy director of international initiatives and senior curator.
“For me, it’s a continuation of the work I’ve been committed to my whole career,” Ms. De Salvo said in a telephone interview, “a deep belief in collections as active, organic things. Every generation interprets them differently.
“They need to grow,” she added, referring in particular to the importance of adding more work by women artists, “they also need to, at times, catch up.”
At Dia, Ms. De Salvo will advise on the collection, exhibitions and long-term installations while also developing Dia’s archive.
“It’s incredible to have someone working with us who knows everything about every Chamberlain in our collection,” said Jessica Morgan, Dia’s director, noting the sculptor John Chamberlain. “She comes with this immense gravitas. She’s a hero to me.”
Ms. De Salvo comes to Dia as the institution prepares to reopen its Chelsea space in September 2020 after an extensive upgrade and expansion. “I think it’s an important moment in their history,” she said. “Dia is always a place I’ve felt a connection to.”
Prior to joining the Whitney in 2004 and becoming its first chief curator in 2006, Ms. De Salvo was senior curator at the Tate Modern in London, where she organized exhibitions on Giorgio Morandi, Warhol, and one of the Turbine Hall commissions, “The Unilever Series: Anish Kapoor (2002).”
At the Whitney, she helped expand the museum’s conception of American art and organized exhibitions on artists like Hélio Oiticica, Michael Heizer and Steve McQueen. There were some who felt that Ms. De Salvo was unfairly supplanted by Scott Rothkopf, who replaced her as chief curator in 2015. But Ms. De Salvo emphasized the positive, namely the critical and popular success of her Warhol show, which recently arrived at the Art Institute of Chicago.
“I have a good feeling about the Whitney,” she said. “I couldn’t have left on a higher note.”