Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon 37 Shapiro Director of the Davis Museum
at Wellesley College, has promoted Amanda Gilvin as the inaugural Sonja Novak Koerner 51 Senior Curator of Collections and Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Davis Museum. The endowment of the position was established in 2019 with the generosity of Wellesley College Alumnae Sonja Novak Koerner (51) and her husband Michael M. Koerner.
In her new position, Gilvin will work with Fischman to oversee all curatorial matters at the Museum, define the vision and direction for the collections, generate publications, and create programs that draw on and expand the mission of the institution. She will supervise the curatorial department, coordinating closely with other Davis departments as well as with faculty, students, and staff on the Wellesley College campus. Gilvin assumed her new role on July 1, 2019.
Since her arrival three years ago, Amanda has been an ambitious force at the Davis, said Fischman. She has undertaken extensive research into the history of collecting African art at Wellesley College, mined the Museums collections to organize several intellectually and aesthetically inspiring exhibitions, and re-staged the permanent collections galleries to highlight African art. She has also developed an innovative partnership with Wellesleys department of computer scienceto enrich and contextualize what has heretofore been an understudied area of our holdings through the application of AR technology in our galleries. She has created strong connections and built promising relationships across campus and across New England, crafted specialized teaching opportunities and gallery talks, supervised students, advocated successfully for acquisitions, and brought new critical perspectives and dynamic force to her work at the Davis.
A specialist in the arts of Africa and the African diaspora, Gilvin joined the Davis Museum as Assistant Curator in 2016. She came from Skidmore College, where she was a Visiting Assistant Professor of African Art. Prior to her tenure at Skidmore, Gilvin held the Five College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in African Art and Architecture at Mount Holyoke College and Smith College. During this three-year period, she co-curated El Anatsui: New Worlds at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, installed the first permanent gallery dedicated to African art at the Smith College Museum of Art, designed and taught courses on African art and culture, and advised on museum acquisitions at both colleges.
During her time at the Davis Museum, Gilvin has curated several exhibitions: Yinka Shonibare MBE: Guns Drawn; Jacob Lawrence: The Legend of John Brown; and Life on Paper: Contemporary Prints from South Africa. She co-curated Fragment: A Museums Mid-Century Legacy, and organized the Davis presentation of Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) in India. She has been awarded two Warhol Foundation Grants for the development and realization of her upcoming exhibition, Fatimah Tuggar: Homes Horizons.
Gilvin writes on textiles, contemporary art, and museums of Africa and the African Diaspora, and her articles have been published in African Studies Review, Critical Interventions, African Arts, and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Her forthcoming book, Mining Beauty: Art and Development in Niger includes an analysis of the Musée National Boubou Hama du Niger.
Gilvin earned a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) and a Masters degree in Art History from Cornell University. She earned a Bachelors degree in English from Kenyon College. Her doctoral dissertation was titled The Warp of a Nation: The Exhibition and Circulation of Nigerien Art, 1920-Present. Her field research in Niger was funded by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship.