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La Jolla High grad to return as new executive director of Athenaeum

Christie Mitchell will be the new executive director of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.
(Lauren Young)

La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library has announced that San Diego native and La Jolla High School graduate Christie Mitchell will succeed Erika Torri as its executive director upon Torri’s retirement in July.

Mitchell, who attended art classes at the Athenaeum, will be only the third executive director in the institution’s 123-year history.

Mitchell’s selection follows a wide search for Torri’s successor that began in January.

After 33 years of expanding the cultural footprint of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, Executive Director Erika Torri has announced she will retire June 30, leaving the La Jolla institution in the hands of someone she hopes will mark the community as she has.

Mitchell earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from Duke University and a master of arts degree from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. From 2014 to 2021, she held various curatorial positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, where she curated and co-curated several major exhibitions, including the retrospective “Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again.”

More recently, Mitchell has worked as an independent curator based in New York City.

Mitchell said in a statement that she is honored to return to San Diego to lead the Athenaeum, “an institution which has been so integral to my own arts education and the cultural fabric of San Diego. I look forward to stewarding Erika’s legacy into the future and building upon the Athenaeum’s mission and programs to highlight and celebrate the incredible artistic offerings of our region.”

Torri said in a statement that Mitchell “has understood the Athenaeum’s special cultural role in the community since she was a child, and I look forward to her continuing and expanding the Athenaeum’s activities throughout San Diego.”

Athenaeum trustee Catherine Palmer said the board “is pleased to welcome Christie. Her broad experience and vision for the future of the Athenaeum make her the ideal person to carry on the foundation that has been so well-laid by Erika Torri.” ◆