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Harvard Art Museums New Director Announced

Cambridge, MA,

Martha Tedeschi coming from the Art Institute of Chicago

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Harvard University Provost Alan Garber today announced the appointment of Martha Tedeschi as the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums, beginning in July. Tedeschi, currently the deputy director for art and research at the Art Institute of Chicago, succeeds Thomas W. Lentz, who departed in July 2015.

“Martha Tedeschi stood out among a pool of exceptional candidates. We are pleased that she will lead the Harvard Art Museums into the future, while building on the superb work of Tom Lentz and the museums’ dedicated staff,” Garber said. “The Harvard Art Museums are among the nation’s largest and most important art collections and are also a critical resource for research, teaching, and learning at Harvard. Martha’s passion for teaching students across all disciplines and experience in training the next generation of scholars, curators, and conservators will enable her to advance the museums’ academic and cultural missions.”

In her current role, Tedeschi is responsible for the management of the departments most closely related to the Art Institute of Chicago’s commitment to research and scholarship. Tedeschi directs a staff of nearly 225, including the museum’s libraries and archives, publishing and imaging, academic programs, and conservation and conservation science departments. She oversees the activities of 11 curatorial departments and also serves as the Institute’s academic liaison to local universities and foundations.

“We are so pleased to welcome Martha Tedeschi at a moment of remarkable opportunity for the Harvard Art Museums,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “Her expertise and leadership will elevate our extraordinary collections and integrate them more fully into Harvard’s intellectual life, challenging our community to grow as we seek to interpret and change the world. The arts are essential to the University’s highest purposes, and I look forward to the ways in which they will continue to flourish under her direction.”

Tedeschi will take charge of a recently reinvented Harvard Art Museums at 32 Quincy St. in Cambridge. Stunningly redesigned and expanded by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and reopened in 2014, the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler museums invite students, faculty, scholars, and the public into one of the world’s great institutions for arts scholarship and research. In the Harvard Art Museums’ new home, the collections are more accessible than ever before. Visitors are able to explore new research connected to the objects on display and the ideas they generate in the galleries; gain a glimpse of leading conservators at work; and in the unique Art Study Center, have hands-on experiences with a wide range of objects from the collections.

“The Harvard Art Museums have been brilliantly reimagined by the recent renovation and I am exhilarated at the prospect of leading them at this moment to realize their enormous potential,” said Tedeschi. “I look forward to working with the full range of the art collections, the talented staff of the museum, and collaborators across the University and in the community to fully activate the building, nurturing a dynamic and inclusive laboratory for considerations of the visual in our lives.”

Tedeschi earned her B.A. from Brown University and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University, both in art history. She is a specialist in British and American art, with a strong interest in the history of printmaking in early modern Europe. She was president of the Print Council of America from 2009 to 2013, currently serves on the board of the Association of Art Museum Curators, and was awarded a fellowship to the Center for Curatorial Leadership in 2012.

Tedeschi has written, edited, or contributed to scores of books and scholarly journals in her field. She is the general editor and co-author of The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler (1998), winner of the George Wittenborn Award for excellence in art publishing in that year. She has also organized numerous exhibitions, including Watercolors by Winslow Homer: A Medium for Modernism (2008) as well as its sequel, John Marin’s Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism (2011), and more recently, Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy (2013).

“Over her distinguished tenure at the Art Institute of Chicago, as a curator and more recently as deputy director of art and research, Martha Tedeschi has evolved an ever more rich and compelling vision for the expanded potential of the museum as a teaching institution capable of engaging diverse audiences by providing access to the museums’ encyclopedic collections in new and creative ways,” said Douglas Druick, who recently retired as the Art Institute’s president and Eloise W. Martin Director.

Tedeschi began her career at the Art Institute of Chicago as a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) intern in 1982, and became a full curator in 1999. Prior to assuming her current role, she served as longtime curator in the museum’s Department of Prints, where she had previously contributed in numerous other roles since 1982.

As a visionary museum leader, she implemented an ambitious Andrew W. Mellon Foundation partnership with the University of Chicago and Northwestern University around teaching graduate students from objects; and oversaw a major pilot project—Mellon’s Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program—designed to offer training and mentoring to students who support the important goal of fostering inclusive, pluralistic museums and increasing the engagement of historically underrepresented groups in the curatorial field. She also spearheaded the Art Institute’s comprehensive assessment and digitization of its permanent collection and led the museum’s pioneering program for producing online scholarly publications.

About the Harvard Art Museums
The Harvard Art Museums, among the world’s leading art institutions, comprise three museums (the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler Museums) and four research centers (the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, the Harvard Art Museums Archives, and the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis). The Fogg Museum includes Western art from the Middle Ages to the present; the Busch-Reisinger Museum, unique among North American museums, is dedicated to the study of all modes and periods of art from central and northern Europe, with an emphasis on German-speaking countries; and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum is focused on Asian, ancient, and Islamic and later Indian art. Together, the collections include approximately 250,000 objects in all media. The Harvard Art Museums are distinguished by the range and depth of their collections, their groundbreaking exhibitions, and the original research of their staff. Integral to Harvard University and the wider community, the museums and research centers serve as resources for students, scholars, and the public. For more than a century they have been the nation’s premier training ground for museum professionals and are renowned for their seminal role in developing the discipline of art history in the United States.
The Harvard Art Museums’ recent renovation and expansion builds on the legacies of the three museums and unites their remarkable collections under one roof for the first time. Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s responsive design preserved the Fogg Museum’s landmark 1927 facility, while transforming the space to accommodate 21st-century needs. Following a six-year building project, the museums now feature 40 percent more gallery space, an expanded Art Study Center, conservation labs, and classrooms, and a striking new glass roof that bridges the facility’s historic and contemporary architecture. The new Harvard Art Museums’ building is more functional, accessible, spacious, and above all, more transparent. The three constituent museums retain their distinct identities in this new facility, yet their close proximity provides exciting opportunities to experience works of art in a broader context.

The Harvard Art Museums receive support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.