The Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL), a new organization that will train curators to become museum directors, has announced the names of the organization’s first fellows, who will begin in the program in January 2008. Selected by a small committee of current and former museum directors, the ten fellows are leading U.S. curators, representing a number of major museums from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. The costs of participation for the fellows will be fully funded. The Center for Curatorial Leadership fellows for 2008 are:
Co-founded by Agnes Gund, President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, and Elizabeth Easton, the former chair of the Department of European Painting at the Brooklyn Museum, the Center for Curatorial Leadership will offer curators an opportunity to gain the skills needed to assume leadership positions in museums. The initiative is funded by Agnes Gund for three years through December 2009.
“This group represents the finest U.S. curators, all leaders in the field, who already have demonstrated leadership skills which the program will enrich,” said Agnes Gund.
“I am encouraged by the interest of such a broad group of people, from across the country, the most exemplary curators in their field. Their eagerness to embrace this program is a testament to their devotion and commitment to the profession at large,” noted Elizabeth Easton.
CCL is also announcing a new collaborative program with Columbia Business School. The Executive Education division will deliver an MBA level curriculum designed to equip curators with the necessary business skills to compete for museum director positions. Prominent professors will bring their expertise in finance, management and other business fundamentals to the selected fellows.
“This program provides the opportunity to bring Columbia Business School’s academic rigor to the curatorial world, and embellish the curator’s strong fundamental art knowledge with the addition of management and finance competency,” notes Raymond D. Horton, the Frank R. Lautenberg Professor of Ethics and Corporate Governance and faculty director of the Center for Curatorial Leadership program.
The Center for Curatorial Leadership, located in New York City, identifies within the curatorial ranks individuals who have the potential to become leaders and will help them become curators who not only take charge of the art in their care, but who are also capable of assuming the leadership responsibilities essential to directing a museum. Philippe de Montebello, Director, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many other museum directors from across the United States have pledged their time, enthusiasm and support. “CCL is premised on the conviction that there need be no contradictions between these two sets of obligations – indeed, that there must not be,” notes Easton.
The Advisory Committee includes distinguished museum directors and trustees including Agnes Gund, President Emerita, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (as of 2/08); Philippe de Montebello, Director, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Timothy Potts, Director, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK; Susana Torruela-Leval, Director Emerita, El Museo del Barrio, New York; and Axel Rüger, Director, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Other cultural leaders on the Committee include the Rt. Hon. Lord Smith of Finsbury, former Secretary of Culture for the United Kingdom, now director of the Clore Leadership Programme, which helps train a new generation of leaders for the UK’s cultural sector, and Darren Walker, Vice President, Foundation Initiatives, The Rockefeller Foundation.
At the founding of the Association of Art Museum Curators six years ago, Philippe de Montebello charged curators to consider as a high priority the crisis of the diminishing pool of future museum directors: “If we are to win the battle of the ‘curator/director’ over the ‘administrator/director,’ a profile with which increasingly boards of trustees are instinctively more comfortable, then it is essential to enlarge the pool of curators with the qualifications to be tomorrow’s museum directors. It is essential, in order to reassure trustees that hiring curators as directors will not compromise the business-like running of a museum’s affairs, in other words, their bottom line. Whether this is achieved through more exposure of curators to the functioning of the administration from within, or more schooling in business administration… it is absolutely critical that more should be done in broadening the professional development of curators.”
Drawing upon the rich resources of museums and academic institutions in New York, the first class of fellows for the Center for Curatorial Leadership will begin on January 7, 2008. The two-week intensive program through Columbia Business School’s Executive
Education division will also include study with directors, administrators and trustees in museum world. Academic courses will include non-profit management, finance and budget analysis, fundraising, board development, cultural properties law, communications, conflict resolution and strategic long-range and short-term initiatives. This will be followed by a one-week residency at a major museum in the spring which will be different from each curator’s home institution. The program will conclude with a final one-week of study in Los Angeles in June 2008. A mentorship program will cover the overall six-month time span. However, the fellows will only need to take off a total of four weeks from their current positions.
Through the Center for Curatorial Leadership, curators will have direct contact and continuing exposure to the leadership of the major museums of the city and the rest of the country. In addition to the intensive study program, throughout the year CCL will hold executive leadership seminars where directors, trustees and curators will come together to share information about the most important issues facing the museum world.
The Center for Curatorial Leadership will offer a certificate upon completion of the program. In addition, CCL will act as an unofficial clearinghouse and resource for directorial positions in the future.
Elizabeth Easton earned her Ph.D. at Yale University, writing her dissertation on Edouard Vuillard's interiors of the 1890s. She joined the Brooklyn Museum in 1988 as Assistant Curator, and became Chair of the Department of European Painting and Sculpture in 1999. During her tenure, she was the curator for numerous exhibitions, including The Intimate Eye of Edouard Vuillard; Frédéric Bazille: Prophet of Impressionism; Monet and the Mediterranean; Brooklyn Collects; and many others.
She has written numerous articles and essays for exhibition catalogues and a variety of art journals. Ms. Easton has also given lectures across the country and abroad on such topics as "Degas and the Artist as Frame Designer" and "Transcending the Easel: Vuillard and Photography," which explore new areas of art historical inquiry. Ms. Easton is an adjunct professor at New York University, teaching a senior seminar on museums in the Art History Department. Among the many academic honors she has received, Ms. Easton was awarded a Fulbright and two Andrew W. Mellon fellowships.
She was the first elected president of the Association of Art Museum Curators (2003-2006), a national organization of over 750 curators from 220 museums. In this capacity she launched an inquiry into the professional development of curators, which led to the creation of the Center for Curatorial Leadership in 2007. She has served as a trustee of the Town School, the Spence School, Studio in a School, and on the advisory boards of a number of other cultural institutions.
The Center for Curatorial Leadership will be funded by Agnes Gund for three years though December, 2009. CCL will fund the cost of tuition, travel, room and board for the fellows. Additional information can be found on www.curatorialleadership.org.
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