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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum appoints Dr. Christina Nielsen as William and Lia Poorvu Curator
Nielsen worked as the Assistant Curator of Late Antique and Byzantine Art at the Art Institute of Chicago.

BOSTON, MASS.- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum announced today that Dr. Christina Nielsen would be named the William and Lia Poorvu Curator of the Collection and Director of Program Planning at the Museum. Nielsen, who formally worked as the Assistant Curator of Late Antique and Byzantine Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, will be responsible for overseeing the historic collection, program planning, and exhibitions and publications generated from new scholarship on the museum’s holdings. Through these projects, she will continue to explore the rich history of the museum and the extraordinary legacy of its founder.

Anne Hawley, Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, noted that the search committee was particularly excited about Nielsen’s experience managing the Art Institute of Chicago’s Curatorial Forum where she helped to shape the organization’s contribution to the museum’s long range planning and started a program of professional development for its curatorial corps.

“Christina’s passionate scholarly mind will bring the rich collection of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum alive to the public through exhibitions, talks and surprising encounters, “ Hawley said. “At the Chicago Art Institute she presided over the Curators’ Forum, where she led the curators’ participation in museum-wide planning. This experience will be especially valuable at the Gardner Museum as we develop an integrated model for programming to support a holistic story for the Museum.” Her appointment will begin officially in April 2014.

A noted scholar with research specialties in ancient and medieval art, Nielsen’s recent experience at the Art Institute of Chicago has given her a broad knowledge and enthusiasm for a wide range of art from Europe, Asia, and North Africa over two millennia. She served as an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in European Decorative Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago from 2003-2007 before becoming Assistant Curator of Medieval Art in the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture in 2007. In 2011, she became Assistant Curator of Late Roman, Early Christian, and Byzantine Art in the Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art.

“I am thrilled by this opportunity to explore the museum’s incomparable historic collection and its unique setting,” Nielsen said. “I look forward to developing programming that is true to the bold and creative vision of Isabella Stewart Gardner and that will continue to captivate and inspire current and future museum audiences.”

Working with the Art Institute of Chicago, Nielsen curated several major exhibitions including: Late Roman and Early Byzantine Treasures from the British Museum, Middle Byzantine Art from Hildesheim Cathedral, Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus, and The Silk Road and Beyond: Travel, Trade, and Transformation. She has published widely on medieval art and its history and reception in 19th-20th century America.

Nielsen holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Chicago. Prior to her appointment in Chicago, she held research appointments and fellowships at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA, the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, and The British Museum, London, England. She has also served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Chicago, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nielsen was chosen by a search committee consisting of curatorial staff and trustees, and led by Anne Hawley and Dr. Joseph Leo Koerner, Museum Trustee and Victor S. Thomas Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University

Nielsen succeeds Oliver Tostmann, who served as William and Lia Poorvu Curator of the Collection from 2011 to 2013. Tostmann was appointed Susan Morse Hilles Curator of European at the Wadsworth Athenaeum of Art in Hartford, Conn.

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