The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia has appointed art historian Melissa Jordan Love as the museum’s first full-time academic curator following a national search. She joined the museum staff Aug. 15.
The position, funded by a three-year, $315,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant, strengthens the museum’s curatorial and academic programming mission as a teaching institution. Love will develop educational programming around the museum’s exhibitions that will both enhance the learning of students at the University and the public’s understanding of art.
She will also play an essential role in developing initiatives that integrate the museum with innovation in the humanities across the University, one of the goals of the grant. Love has a joint appointment in the College of Arts & Sciences’ McIntire Department of Art, where she will teach from time to time, and will participate in the new Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures.
“We are delighted to welcome Jordan Love to our staff,” director Bruce Boucher said. “She brings a wealth of museum and academic experience, tailor-made for the demanding role of an academic curator.”
Her academic and museum experience will enable the museum to offer museum-based courses and continue to offer the museum as a laboratory for learning across disciplines, using its collection of more than 13,000 objects to create and analyze new knowledge, Boucher added.
Love earned a Ph.D. in art history in May from Columbia University, where she focused on medieval art and architecture and the development of towns in southwest France during a time of large-scale town planning. She earned a bachelor’s degree in art history and economics at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass.
She honed her passion for museum education experience at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Mass., where she was a curator, and The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., where she said the opportunity to be involved in education, marketing and press efforts expanded her role and interaction with the collections and exhibits and her goal of making art accessible.
“Most museum experience is curatorial,” Love said. “Working at smaller museums, you wear many hats. I like working directly with art and getting people interested in art. At U.Va., I have an opportunity to get back into the museum and academic world, too.”
The museum’s collection includes 18th- and 20th-century American and European paintings, Old Master and modern prints and drawings, photography, East and South Asian painting, African, Pre-Columbian and Native American art and artifacts. The Kluge-Ruhe Collection showcases the most important collection of Australian Aboriginal art in the U.S.
As academic curator, Love’s responsibilities will include:
- Teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in the McIntire Department of Art and the College’s new Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures in conjunction with exhibitions and leading seminars that produce new knowledge about objects in the museum’s collection;
- Working directly with members of the University faculty to include the museum’s temporary exhibitions and permanent collections in their classroom activities;
- Organizing exhibitions for the museum with direct connection to and in collaboration with research interests of faculty and students in diverse departments;
- Managing a new, for-credit student internship initiative in partnership with the Global Development Studies Program and the University’s Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, in which students will work at either the museum or the Kluge-Ruhe Collection;
- Coordinating faculty- and student-curated exhibitions and research projects; and
- Overseeing the museum’s education department and its various outreach programs
Love will build on work spearheaded by Matthew Affron, professor of art history in the College and curator of modern art, who served as part-time academic curator beginning in 2009. He fostered expansion of academic programming and increased threefold the number of students using the museum as a classroom. The number of departments using the museum to enrich their curriculum has risen to 17 and includes drama, religious studies, French, English and anthropology as well as art history, studio art, architecture, education and medicine. Last year 20 percent of the College’s departments had a museum component in their curriculum and more than 1,200 of U.Va.’s undergraduates, or 8.4 percent, used the museum for some of their academic work.
The museum has also expanded its engagement and access to the collection through an online iPad application that makes the collection available for research and exploration 24 hours a day.