Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

April 3, 2014

Addison Gallery taps Philadelphia art curator as new director


The Andover Townsman

---- — Judith F. Dolkart not only has art in her blood, but in her name. And now she is readying to bring both to Addison Gallery of American Art on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover.

Dolkart — the deputy director of art and archival collections for a Philadelphia foundation and alumnae of Phillips Academy’s sister institution — will succeed Brian Allen as Addison’s new director.

Phillips Academy Head of School John Palfrey announced Dolkart’s appointment last week. She will begin her new role in July.

“Judith is an accomplished curator and educator who believes deeply in visual literacy, cross-media learning and the power of art to engage, persuade and provide transformative experiences,” Palfrey said in a release.

“Her knowledge of art and art history combined with a commitment to making art accessible to audiences across all ages, experiences and backgrounds make her a superb choice for the Addison, a teaching museum committed to excellence in scholarship.”

Addison’s collection of American art, which numbers more than 17,000 objects, is considered one of the most important in the country. Its exhibitions and related events are always open free to the public, and its educational programming extends beyond campus to public schools in the region.

Dolkart comes to Andover from The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, which she joined in 2010 as chief curator before being promoted to deputy director and Gund Family chief curator in 2012. Established in 1922, The Barnes Foundation has a notable collection of post-Impressionist and early modern paintings, as well as extensive holdings of old master paintings, African sculpture, Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles, American paintings and decorative arts, and antiquities.

She said she is excited to begin work in Andover.

“The Addison — with its important collections and exhibitions, talented staff and the wonderful Museum Learning Center — offers tremendous opportunities for creative curricular collaboration at Phillips Academy,” Dolkart said in the release. “To have this vital and rich resource at the heart of a secondary school offers an incredible opportunity to think innovatively about what and how we learn.”

Sidney R. Knafel, chairman of the Addison Board of Governors who led the search panel, said Dolkart “stood out among an exceptional group of candidates from across the country.”

“She will bring a global perspective to the Addison’s renowned collection of American art and will lead the Addison to an enhanced international position both as an art museum and as an educational site for Phillips Academy,” said Knafel, a 1948 graduate of Phillips.

An expert on the art and culture of 19th century France, Dolkart previously served as associate curator of European art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, which she joined in 2000 as assistant curator. She is a published scholar and has worked as a lecturer at the college and university level.

The Phillips Exeter graduate received her Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts in 1993 from Harvard-Radcliffe College in Cambridge. In 1997, she earned her Master of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the history of art at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dolkart replaces Allen, who left Addison late last year to become museum director and vice president of the New York Historical Society. Allen is credited with leading the implementation of the Addison’s most recent strategic plan, which included a multi-million-dollar building renovation and expansion featuring a new Museum Learning Center.