Women Curators and Directors in Art Museums before 1960
Conference session convened by Christel Hollevoet-Force
Most curatorial staff at art museums such as the Guggenheim, the Met, MoMA, and the Whitney nowadays are women. Two of these distinguished New York institutions were not only founded by women, but all four were the stage of a few female curators' remarkable trajectories in the first half of the twentieth century, in an unquestionably male-dominated world. This session will celebrate the achievements of pioneering women curators whose careers bloomed before 1960, with an overview of their trials and triumphs -- launching new curatorial departments, defining heretofore uncharted fields of research and collecting, rising to the top of the ladder, and playing seminal roles within their museums and beyond. This session is a springboard to reflect on the specific challenges, distinct merits, and broader significance of women's careers within the history of art museums.
Examples of these extraordinary women include Juliana Force (1876-1948), who was director of the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1930 to 1948; Hilla Rebay (1890-1967), whose was director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from 1939 to 1952; Iris Barry (1895-1969), who created MoMA's film department in 1932; and Dorothy Miller (1904-2003), who was a curator of painting and sculpture at MoMA from 1934 to 1969. I also have in mind Monuments Women such as Rose Valland (1898-1980) at the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris; Ardelia Hall (1899-1979) who started her career at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; or Edith Standen (1905-1998) who concluded hers at The Met—all of whom were instrumental in the Allies' restitution efforts following the systematic Nazi looting of art during WWII.
Scholars who have delved into the career of any such curator/director -- the above or any other, in any country -- or researched a specific facet of their broader accomplishments, are invited to send a proposal.
Call for papers for the conference: "Celebrating Female Agency in the Arts," Christie's Education, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, June 26-27, 2018
Deadline: December 15, 2017
Paper proposals should include an abstract (max 500 words) and short biography (max 250 words), and be sent to christel.forcemetmuseum.org
CFP: Women Curators and Directors (New York, 26-27 Jun 18). In: ArtHist.net, Oct 10, 2017 (accessed Jun 30, 2022), <https://arthist.net/archive/16379>.