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Contemporary Ways to Present Historical Art Webinar
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Contemporary Ways to Present Historical Art

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


In this 60-minute webinar, Gina Borromeo, Curator of Ancient Art, RISD Museum and Cara McCarty, Curatorial Director, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, gave presentations on recent projects that aim to interpret historical art in innovative ways: a permanent collection re-installation with updated interpretive goals and an exhibition series that establishes and explores new links between art of the past and the contemporary artistic practice. Topics explored included: approaches to making ancient and historical art more relevant to 21st-century audiences; engaging contemporary artists to re-imagine a museum's collection in light of their own work; interpretive lessons learned from contemporary art; working with student populations, and more! This event aimed to facilitate the open exchange of ideas and reflection on the unique challenges of curating historical art, while inspiring curators of the past and present alike toward experimentation and even collaboration.


Presenters (listed alphabetically)

Gina Borromeo, Curator of Ancient Art, RISD Museum 

As curator of ancient art, Gina Borromeo oversees the Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman collections at the RISD Museum. Her projects include collection rotations such as Rethinking the Romans and Made for Eternity, as well as the reinstallations of the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman galleries (2010) and the Egyptian collection (2014). She has always been intrigued by objects and monuments made of marble and other stones. While her work has focused primarily on the ancient contexts of Greek and Roman sculpture, recently she has been studying the materials and techniques employed by artists in antiquity. She enjoys teaching from the Museum’s collection of ancient art.

Gina Borromeo was a Fulbright Scholar in Rome (1990–1991) and a Samuel H. Kress Dissertation Fellow (1991–1992). She earned her MA and PhD degrees in history of art and architecture from Brown University. She has had significant archaeological experience, having excavated in various sites in Greece, Israel, Italy, and Turkey. Before coming to the RISD Museum, she worked at the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently serves on the Museums and Exhibitions Committee of Archaeological Institute of America, as well as the Boards of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, both at Brown University.

Cara McCarty, Curatorial Director, Cooper Hewitt

Since 2007, Cara McCarty has been Cooper Hewitt’s Curatorial Director, where she directs the museum’s curatorial vision, oversees its four curatorial departments, collections management and acquisitions, and leads exhibition planning. She served as a core member of the task force for the museum’s renovation, and was involved in all decisions related to the re-envisioned Cooper Hewitt, from the master plan to the display cases and visitor experience.

From 1992 to 2007, McCarty was curator and head of the department of decorative arts and design at the Saint Louis Art Museum, where she developed the museum’s 20th-and 21st-century design collection and organized major design exhibitions. McCarty also served on the oversight committee for that museum’s 2013 expansion, designed by David Chipperfield. Her recent exhibitions and accompanying publications include “Tools: Extending Our Reach” (co-curated with Matilda McQuaid), “Why Design Now?: National Design Triennial,” “Currents 101: Patrick Jouin,” “Tadao Ando: Architect,” “Structure and Surface: Contemporary Japanese Textiles” (also co-curated with McQuaid), and “Masks: Faces of Culture.”

Prior to her tenure in St. Louis, McCarty held curatorial positions in the department of architecture and design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. There, she organized a number of exhibitions and wrote the accompanying publications, including Modern Masks and Helmets, Information Art: Diagramming Microchips, Designs for Independent Living: Products for People with Disabilities, and Mario Bellini: Designer.

McCarty holds a bachelor’s degree in art and architectural history from Stanford University, and pursued graduate studies in art history at Hunter College. She is a frequent lecturer and juror, and was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. 


Blake Ruehrwein, Independent Curator; Moderator

Blake Ruehrwein has ten years of experience in many different aspects of the art world, including auctions, galleries, museums, local community organizations, and municipal institutions. As an Independent Curator since 2012 in New York City, he has organized exhibitions and events with the Isamu Noguchi Museum and Drawing Center, the Ideas City and Crossing the Line art festivals, and worked with acclaimed international artists. In 2016, Ruehrwein curated The Spirit Unveiled: Icons of Howard Lerner at W83 in Manhattan. Also in 2016 and for the last three years, he has curated the annual showcase for Spark & Echo Arts. In 2013, Ruehrwein curated for Gowanus Open Studios. Ruehrwein was on the small team that created the inaugural exhibitions for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. He also has experience working with historical artifacts and story-telling from his tenure at the New York Transit Museum. In 2015, Ruehrwein was awarded a curatorial fellowship to work with Freedom Ladder, a non-profit that uses comic books to teach youth about human rights and self-empowerment. Ruehrwein was also the recipient of a grant from the City College of New York Dean’s Office of Arts and Humanities in 2013, for co-curating an exhibition of City College alumni. Ruehrwein’s publications include, The Art Museum as Trauma Clinic in the Journal of Museums and Social Issues, as well as An Alternate Reality: Iraq and American Today for the Bell Gallery at Brown University. He has also led art-making workshops, public and private tours, served as a juror and a speaker on multiple occasions. Ruehrwein earned a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from Bridgewater State University, and a master’s degree in Art History from City College of New York.

AAMC's Webinar Program

AAMC offers webinars on essential skills, timely issues, and latest discoveries that define the profession of Art Curator and enhance understanding and development in the field, through online webinars, a medium that simultaneously reaches the organization's entire membership, regardless of location. As of October 2015, all webinars are free with a current membership. An archive of past webinars is also available to current members.

All of AAMC’s programming and overall efforts shall strive to be representative of diversity: across fields of expertise, types of institutional mission, regional position, and self-identifications (by nation, gender, creed, race) of participants. The more diverse our voices, the more dynamic our offerings.

For the 2015 - 2016 season, our webinars focus on the theme "How Art Curators Get Their Ideas Out There." The topics for the webinars have been selected based on this idea as it relates to exhibitions, scholarship, and the broader social context. 

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