Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

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Bentonville, AR


Austen Barron Bailly, Ph.D. appointed Chief Curator

We are pleased to announce that Austen Barron Bailly, Ph.D. will be the new Chief Curator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art following her tenure at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Mass., where she served as the George Putnam Curator of American Art. Dan Keegan of Museum Search & Reference ran the nationwide search for Crystal Bridges. Austen will assume the duties of chief curator on July 15, 2019. 

Bailly will lead the curatorial and collections management teams at Crystal Bridges. She will be a key member of the strategy team, overseeing collection growth and preservation, and will be part of the team to develop exciting exhibition programs. 

"I'm thrilled to welcome Austen to Crystal Bridges and Northwest Arkansas," said Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges Executive Director and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. "Her ability to lead teams and collaborate with peers combined with her deep understanding of and passion for American art will invigorate the museum's curatorial approach to provide inspiring art opportunities for visitors." 

Bailly will arrive in time for Nature's Nation: American Art and Environment, a temporary exhibition Crystal Bridges is presenting that examines American artists' impact on shaping environmental understanding and stewardship. Created by the Princeton University Art Museum, the exhibition also traveled to the Peabody Essex Museum, where it is on view through May 5. 

Bailly received her B.A. from Vassar College, her M.A. from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a co-executive editor of the journal Panorama and has served as chair of the Association of Historians of American Art, and as a member of the Public Art Commission for the City of Salem. 

Bailly joined PEM in 2013 following 11 years in the American art department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). At PEM, she has curated nationally touring exhibitions, including American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood (2015), which came from LACMA; American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals (2016), an unprecedented research collaboration between geologists, marine scientists, and art historians that led to new discoveries about Hassam's artistic practice; and the upcoming Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle (2020), the first museum exhibition to reunite a seminal series of thirty paintings, which resonate with ongoing debates about democracy and justice. 

Many people helped with this search as nominators, references or candidates, and Dan and Marilyn are grateful to each of them.