Ann Philbin has directed the Hammer Museum at UCLA since 1999. She initiated the museum's contemporary collection, which now holds over 2,000 artworks, instituted the internationally acclaimed Hammer Projects, and has overseen a roster of dynamic public programs that regularly feature the most provocative and creative thinkers of our time. Philbin has also curated a number of exhibitions while at the Hammer, including in 2003 the much acclaimed Lee Bontecou: A Retrospective, co-curated by Elizabeth Smith (MCA, Chicago) and Lee Mullican: Drawings in 2000. Prior to her arrival at the Hammer Museum, Philbin was director of the Drawing Center in New York for nine years. Before taking the helm at the Drawing Center, Philbin was an independent curator and organized large-scale public art exhibitions.
Philbin sits on the board of directors of the Foundation for Arts Initiatives (formerly the American Center Foundation) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD). She is a Fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. She is a past board member of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (2000–08). Philbin was also a committee member of the National Endowment for the Arts' Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions. She served on the Center's exhibitions panel in 2000 and 2011, and as the panel chair in the latter year.