PRINCETON, NJ.- The Princeton University Art Museum
has appointed Alexandra Letvin as the inaugural Duane Wilder, Class of 1951, associate curator of European Art. Letvin joins Princeton from the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, where she has served as assistant curator of European and American art since 2019. She will begin her appointment at Princeton early this summer.
The newly endowed position is named in honor of Duane Wilder, who was an avid art collector and a tireless advocate for the arts and humanities on Princetons campus and beyond. He served for nearly 40 years on the Princeton University Art Museums Advisory Council and bequeathed his extensive collection to the Museum upon his death in 2017. In 2020 the Museum presented The Eclectic Eye, a digital exhibition featuring highlights from Wilders collection that ranged from sixteenth-century northern European paintings to contemporary photography.
At Princeton, Letvins portfolio will include guiding the Museums program in European art from the medieval period to 1945 and integrating the European tradition more fully into global inquiries. Letvins appointment comes at a critical time for the Museum, which last year began construction on a dramatic new facility designed by Sir David Adjaye, scheduled to open in late 2024. Letvin will be responsible for shaping collections displays in the new building, originating exhibitions, conducting research, making acquisitions and working closely with campus and broader communities.
"Alexandra is an exciting scholar curator with an innovative curatorial vision, who truly understands the complex responsibilities of the academically-based museum in the 21st century," said James Steward, Nancy A. NasherDavid J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. "Her boundary-crossing scholarship along with her commitment to teaching and engagement will make her a compelling voice in reimagining what a university museum can be."
Letvin graduated magna cum laude from Williams College with a bachelors degree in art history and received a masters and PhD in the history of art from Johns Hopkins University. Before joining Oberlin, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and has held curatorial fellowships at the Meadows Museum in Dallas and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Exhibitions and installations Letvin curated at Oberlin include Mobility and Exchange, 16001800 (2021), which situates the museums 17th- and 18th-century European holdings in dialogue with works from Africa, Asia and South America; DIS/POSSESSION (cocurated with Hannah Wirta Kinney 2021); Focus: Power, Agency, and Objectivity in Early Photography (2021); and How Can Museum Labels Be Antiracist? (2020). Other notable projects include Sit Down with a New Discovery (cocurated with Teresa Lignelli, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2020) and Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention (Meadows Museum, 2015).
A specialist in early modern Spanish art, Letvin has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues, collection handbooks and essay collections, including a chapter in "Sorolla in America: Friends and Patrons" (2015), which won the American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies Eleanor Tufts Book Award in 2017.
"To me, the great joy of curating European art in a campus setting is the challenge it presents to be responsive and to rethink the stories we tell," said Letvin. "Im honored to join a dynamic team at the Princeton University Art Museum that is deeply and creatively engaged with this work."