From the Director, Alex W. Barker
The past few months have brought many changes to the Museum—all of them welcome.
After long effort and anticipation the Museum’s collections are back on display. We formally reopened the galleries on April 19th to excellent reviews, and have had a steady stream of individuals and groups in the ensuing months. Few changes could be more welcome; as we continued to pursue other dimensions of the Museum’s mission while the galleries were closed, a central part of our mission, mandate, and character was absent when we couldn’t share our collections with all of you.
We’ve also added some important new acquisitions, further enriching the Museum’s distinguished holdings. One of the new acquisitions is featured in this issue—a seventeenth-century vanitas-themed still life which, like the Museum, is more than meets the eye.
In addition to various physical security upgrades, we’ve also added several new security guards to the Museum staff. We’re pleased to welcome Leland Jones, Will Fish, and Ron Bates—new faces to greet you when you visit, and to ensure the safety of both our visitors and our art. In addition, Pete Christus, who joined the staff during the move and assisted in the reinstallation of the collections, has transitioned to a guard position—and serves as a bit of a “utility infielder,” able to assist in several areas as needed.
Two skilled craftsmen, Matt Smith and Travis Kroner, helped with finish work in the galleries and installation of the collections. Travis has now joined the staff of our neighbor, the Museum of Anthropology, to assist them with their installation. Matt Smith has joined the Museum’s permanent staff, assisting Chief Preparator Barb Smith in her myriad duties. A native Missourian, Matt trained as a geologist and worked for the US Geological Survey before turning his hand (literally) to craft. He may be a familiar face to many of you from his work with the True/False Film Festival.
And most recently we completed a national search for the position of Associate Curator of European and American Art at the Museum. We had chosen to leave that position vacant during the move and reinstallation, so that the candidate selected would have a clearer idea of our prospects and plans. In some ways, I suppose, that was a calculated risk, but it has paid off. The search committee was thrilled with the quality of the applicants for the position, and we’re even more thrilled that Dr. Alisa Carlson—our consensus choice—has now joined the Museum staff. Dr. Carlson brings a recent doctorate from the University of Texas and a background in both Renaissance and African art to the Museum. You can learn more about her in this issue, and I look forward to introducing her to all of you.
It’s been a pleasure welcoming so many of you back to the galleries and to the Museum’s ongoing suite of public programs. But with so much changing, I encourage you to come by and see all that’s new.