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2012 Conference | Boston
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2012 Session Descriptions & Biographies

About the Keynote Conversation

Structured as a conversation between two thought leaders in the field, the AAMC keynote conversation included a discussion between Helen Molesworth, Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director at the Israel Museum. Ms. Molesworth and Mr. Snyder covered an array of topics meant to inspire more in depth conversations throughout the conference. Specifically, they touched upon issues related to developing both a local and global museum platform, the evolving role of contemporary art in an encyclopedic museum, and how shifting collection boundaries are influencing installations and curatorial practice.

About the Keynote Speakers

Helen Molesworth is the Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston, where she has organized one person exhibitions of artists Catherine Opie and Josiah McElheny, and group exhibitions such as Dance/Draw and This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s.Formerly head of the Department of Modern and Contemporary art as well as the Houghton Curator of Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museum, she presented an exhibition of photographs by Moyra Davey and ACT UP NY: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis 1987-1993.From 2002 to 2007 she was the Chief Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts where she organized the first US retrospectives ofLouise Lawler and Luc Tuymans, as well as Part Object Part Sculpture which examined sculpture produced in the wake of Marcel Duchamp’s erotic objects and hand made readymades of the 1960s.From 2000-2002 she was the Curator of Contemporary Art at The Baltimore Museum of Art, where she organized Work Ethic, which traced the problem of artistic labor in post-1960s art.She is the author of numerous catalogue essays and her writing has appeared in publications such as Artforum,Art Journal, Documents, and October.Her research areas are concentrated largely within and around the problems of feminism, the reception of Marcel Duchamp, and the socio-historical frameworks of contemporary art. She is currently at work on the first museum survey exhibition of painter Amy Sillman.

James S. Snyder has served as the Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum since 1997. During his tenure, the Museum has strengthened its international presence with an ambitious series of important loan exhibitions in Jerusalem and traveling exhibitions worldwide; continued to expand its holdings across all of its collecting areas; developed its network of International Friends organizations, now operating in fourteen countries worldwide; launched a campaign to double its endowment to

$150 million; and undergone a series of upgrades and enhancements. Most recently, the Museum has completed a comprehensive $100-million renewal of its entire campus, led by Snyder and designed by James Carpenter Design Associates, New York, and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects, Tel Aviv.

Prior to his appointment at the Israel Museum, Mr. Snyder served as Deputy Director at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.Mr. Snyder was educated at Harvard University and is a Loeb Fellow of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. In 2006, Snyder was awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) of the Republic of Italy, and, in 2010, he received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) of the French Republic. He was born in 1952 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is married to Tina Davis, an author and book designer. They have two children.

Panel: Give and Take: Shifting Collection Boundaries in the 21st Century Museum

In the age of museum expansions and reinstallations, many institutions are rethinking traditional notions of collection boundaries. While divisions of culture continue to shape most curatorial purviews, parameters of chronology and medium are increasingly fluid, complicating older definitions of collection categorization as well as where objects—painting, sculpture, decorative art, photography, and works on paper—reside in terms of gallery space and curatorial responsibility. This topical session—moderated by Sylvia Yount, Chief Curator, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts—brought together panelists of both Western and non-Western art to discuss these issues in addition to cross-departmental collaborations in collection and exhibition development.

Marla Berns, Director, UCLA Fowler Museum
Emily Ballew Neff, Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Matthew Witkovsky, Curator and Chair, Department of Photography, Art Institute of Chicago

Panel Chair:Sylvia Yount, Chief Curator and Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art , Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Panel: Expanded or Reconfigured Spaces

This panel explored cogent lessons learned from a variety of museums who have reconfigured or expanded their footprint. Specifically, panelists discussed the curatorial role in the planning and execution of such projects as well as advice for museum curators undergoing architectural change.


Elliot Bostwick Davis, John Moors Cabot Chair, Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Deborah Martin Kao, Chief Curator, Division of Modern and Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museums

Jim Labeck, Director of Operations, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Panel Chair:Paul Ha, Director, MIT List Center

Curatorial "Pecha Kucha": Inaugural Curatorial Slam

For the first time, the AAMC explored a "Pecha Kucha" format for a ninety-minute session that sought to highlight upwards of nine short presentations (under seven minutes each) that were meant to allow curators a space to test out ideas in progress. For example, curators who wished to share their thoughts about a prospective exhibition, acquisition, conservation project, or innovative program viewed the Curatorial Slam as an opportunity to present and receive feedback on an project while in its formative stages. The ultimate goal of this session was to showcase the dynamic work of the membership at a pivotal moment in the curatorial process. To learn more about the "Pecha Kucha" format, click here.

AAMC Member presenters:

K. Michelle Arthur, Consulting Curator, Hartwick College/Yager Musem- "Discovery and Revelation: The Collection of Rev. Dr. Louis van Ess"

Martina Bagnoli, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Medieval Art, Walters Art Museum - "Crowdsourcing and the Art Museum"

Sarah Cash, Bechhoefer Curator of American Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art - "Bierstadt's 'Last of the Buffalo'"

Xandra Eden, Curator of Exhibitions, Weatherspoon Art Museum - "Zones of Contention"

Rita Freed, John F. Cogan Jr. and Mary L. Cornille Chair of the Department of Art of the Ancient World, MFA, Boston - "A Different Approach to Collection Building: An Exchange of Antiquities between the MFA, Boston and the Poznan, Poland Archaeological Museum”

Christine Giviskos, Associate Curator, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum - "The benefits and opportunities of maintaining the media-based organization of curatorial departments in the 21st-century museum"

Andrea Lipps, Curatorial Assistant, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum- "Design and Food"

Georgiana Uhlyarik, Associate Curator of Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Ontario- "Have We Come a Long Way, Baby? The Challenges of Acquiring Woman Artists"

Curatorial Short Courses: Exhibitions Management & Loan Negotiations

Developed as a series of 40-minute mini-courses, these workshops provided useful and practical information to enhance key administrative skills essential in the daily work of today's curators.

Featured presenters:

Exhibitions Management

Chiyo Ishikawa, Deputy Director, Seattle Art Museum

Loan Negotiations

Mark Scala, Chief Curator, Frist Center for the Arts


Laurie Winters, Director of Exhibitions, Senior Curator of European Art, Milwaukee Art Museum

Panel: Emergency Response: Case Studies in Museum Crisis Management

This panel looked at various forms of museum "crisis” from natural disaster to protecting threatened objects/collections to preventing a PR firestorm.


Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Kathleen Edwards, Chief Curator, University of Iowa Museum of Art

Michael Rush, Director, Broad Art Museum; former Director, Rose Art Museum at Brandeis

Jacqueline L. Sullivan, Former Deputy Director, New Orleans Museum of Art

Panel Chair: David Rubin, The Brown Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art, San Antonio Museum of Art

Call for Papers Session: Technology & Community Engagement

With funders placing greater emphasis on increased audience participation, museums are developing new strategies to engage visitors. Some of the options include organizing community-curated exhibitions, bringing in multiple voices through audio tours and labels, collaborating with community groups, and introducing technology and interactive spaces within galleries. An important goal of these strategies is to provide visitors with ways to make personal connections to the exhibition content. This panel explored various methods for increasing community engagement, whether operational or in the planning stages. Discussions of what works, or does not work, as well as interpretive planning projects were presented.


Graham C. Boettcher, The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art
Karleen Gardner, Curator of Education, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Karen Kramer Russell, Curator, Native American Art & Culture, Peabody Essex Museum
Jennifer Scanlan, Associate Curator, Museum of Art & Design

Panel Chair: Marina Pacini, Chief Curator, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

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