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Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Curator, Mary-Kay Lombino, Receives Fellowship for Curatorial Leadership
Mary-Kay Lombino, the Emily Hargroves Fisher ’57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. Photo credit: Jennifer Cole/Vassar.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY.- Mary-Kay Lombino, the Emily Hargroves Fisher ’57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, is the recipient of a prestigious fellowship from the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL). This is the second-year of fellowships awarded for a program whose contention is that “the most successful new museum directors of the future should be chosen from the ranks of today's curators.” Ten outstanding curators from art museums and institutions across the United States have been selected to participate in the 2009 CCL fellowship program.

“It is very gratifying that Mary-Kay Lombino and the museum program at Vassar has been recognized by the Center for Curatorial Leadership,” noted James Mundy, director of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. “Cultivating curatorial talent for a leadership role in America's art museums is essential, keeping the focus of our collective mission on the art and its intellectual and social relevance.”

Cofounded by Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, and Elizabeth Easton, the former chair of the Department of European Painting at the Brooklyn Museum, the Center for Curatorial Leadership will train curators to assume leadership positions in museums. “The members of the Class of 2009 exemplify the high values and priceless abilities of the finest curators across the United States,” Agnes Gund stated. “They are already leaders in their own fields. With CCL’s help, they will prove their capacity for leadership across the board.”

During the six-month course of the fellowship, Ms. Lombino and her nine colleagues will also participate in a mentoring program with directors and trustees from other museums. In their acceptance letter, the Center recognized Ms. Lombino’s “unique perspective, experience, and talent” as valuable assets with which to navigate the changing landscape of curatorial practice.

A panel of leading museum directors selected the CCL class of 2009. The program will begin on January 5, 2009, with instruction by faculty from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University as well as top museum directors, administrators, and trustees from around the country. In addition there is a one-week residency at another institution, as well as a team assignment. All costs are fully funded by CCL.

Benjamin Genocchio noted in the New York Times article, “Boot Camp for Curators Who Want the Top Job,” of the first year of the fellows program that: “it is easier to teach a passionate curator to be a leader than it is to teach a professional manager to be passionate about the presentation and display of great art, the assumption being that you need both to be a good director.”

Mary-Kay Lombino was appointed to the position of Emily Hargroves Fisher ’57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator in 2006. During this time at Vassar, Ms. Lombino has curated several notable exhibitions, including Off the Shelf: New Form in Contemporary Artists’ Books; Out of Shape: Stylistic Distortions of the Human Form in Art from the Logan Collection; and Facebook: Image of People in Photographs from the Permanent Collection. Her current exhibition, Excerpt: Selections from the Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn Collection, is the first public showing of the collection of private art collector and independent curator, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn.

Before coming to the Art Center, Ms. Lombino was the curator of exhibits at the University Art Museum (UAM), California State University, Long Beach, where she began in 1999. Before joining the UAM, she served as assistant curator at UCLA Hammer Museum for five years. Ms. Lombino received a BA in Art History from the University of Richmond and an MA in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Southern California in 1995. She has also organized solo shows for numerous artists including Phil Collins, Ken Price, Amy Myers, Gay Outlaw, Euan Macdonald, Alice Könitz, Candida Höfer, and Mungo Thomson.

In 2005, Ms. Lombino received a Getty Curatorial Research Fellowship to study work by the late California Symbolist/Surrealist painter Dorr Bothwell.

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