PORTLAND, MAINE.- The Portland Museum of Art’s Chief Curator, Jessica Nicoll, announced today that she will be leaving the Museum in July to take the position of Director and Chief Curator of the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts. A 1983 graduate of Smith College, Nicoll was hired as Curator of American Art at the Portland Museum of Art in 1992 and was later promoted to Chief Curator in 1995. Her current title is Chief Curator and William E. and Helen E. Thon Curator of American Art.
“The remarkable skills that allowed Jessica to become one of finest curators in her field will definitely enable her to be a marvelous museum director,” said Director Daniel O’Leary. “Smith College is extremely fortunate.”
Over the past 13 years, Nicoll has curated more than 20 exhibitions, including such major exhibitions as Charles Codman: The Landscape of Art and Culture in 19th-century Maine (November 2002), The Poetry Within: The Life & Work of William Thon (February 2002), Marguerite & William Zorach: Harmonies and Contrasts (November 2001), Dahlov Ipcar: Seven Decades of Creativity (October 2001), Winslow Homer Facing Nature (May 1998), A Legacy for Maine: Masterworks from the Collection of Elizabeth B. Noyce (October 1997), Andrew Wyeth at 80: A Celebration (July 1997), Neil Welliver Prints: The Essence of Maine (February 1996), and The Allure of the Maine Coast: Robert Henri and His Circle, 1903-1918 (June 1995).
Nicoll also oversaw the restoration, interpretation, and reinstallation of the Museum’s Federal-era McLellan House and the historic L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, which reopened to the public in 2002. Recently, Nicoll has reinstalled the Museum’s permanent collection galleries in the Charles Shipman Payson Building, allowing for a more integrated interpretation of the collection. The last show she will coordinate for the Museum is the long-awaited Rockwell Kent: The Mythic and the Modern opening on June 23, 2005.
During her tenure at the Portland Museum of Art, Nicoll also authored numerous exhibition catalogues, gallery guides, and scholarly articles on topics including Charles Codman, William and Marguerite Zorach, Winslow Homer, Will Barnet, Abraham Bogdanove, the art collection of Elizabeth B. Noyce, and the artistic community formed by Robert Henri on Monhegan Island.
As Chief Curator, Nicoll has helped the Portland Museum of Art build a larger, professional curatorial staff. With her colleagues in the Curatorial Department and in partnership with the Museum’s Collection Committee, she authored plans for the development of the Museum’s collection. Under Nicoll’s stewardship the collection has grown in breadth, depth, and quality through gifts and purchases. Among the many major purchase initiatives overseen by Nicoll were Marsden Hartley’s Kinsman Falls, Marguerite Zorach’s Diana of the Sea and The Garden, and Louise Nevelson’s untitled wall relief from circa 1975-76.
Nicoll came to the Portland Museum of Art from Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts where she was Curator of Exhibits for six years. While there she organized the exhibition Meet Your Neighbors: New England Portraits, Painters, and Society, 1790-1850. She has also been a Guest Curator at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware and has a Masters degree and a Museum Studies certificate from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the University of Delaware. Nicoll received her B.A. in Art History and American Studies from Smith College. Nicoll, who has been living in Portland with her family, plans to reside in Northhampton, Massachusetts.