The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is losing its chief curator to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, who also is the Krieble curator of American painting and sculpture at the Atheneum, the nation's oldest public museum, has taken the post of senior curator of American painting at the Met, effective Sept. 1.
As one of the world's leading experts on the Hudson River School of painting, Kornhauser helped bring the museum's vast holdings in the field to international prominence and has been the author of several books on the subject. She served as acting director of the museum in 2000.
At the Met, Kornhauser will be responsible for reinstalling the American paintings collection, the opening of which next year will be the final phase of the new American Wing that reopened in 2009 after two years of construction and renovation.
Atheneum Director Susan L. Talbott calls it "one of the prize curatorships in the country."
"Although this is bittersweet news for all of us who have so respected Betsy over her almost 26-year tenure at the museum, we also understand that this is a position she simply could not refuse," Talbott told her staff in a memo this week. "I am thrilled for her and terribly sad for us. Nevertheless, we cannot help but be proud that Betsy will leave the Wadsworth Atheneum for a position of great importance to our field."
Her husband, Stephen Kornhauser, will continue his duties as chief conservator at the Atheneum, and the two will maintain their home in West Hartford.
In her absence, Linda Roth, the Atheneum's senior curator and Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham curator of European decorative arts, and a former chief curator, will step into the role of interim chief curator as a national search begins as soon as next week, museum spokeswoman Kimberly Reynolds said.
Talbott says she will soon be assembling a search committee seeking "candidates with both a stellar curatorial portfolio and management experience."
"I am confident that we will fill the position with a candidate who can move our mission forward and continue to distinguish the museum," Talbott said.
Kornhauser will be back at the Atheneum as soon as this fall, in association with the big show of the museum's works on paper that she put together titled, "American Moderns: Masterworks on Paper from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 1910-1960." The show, which opens Thursday at the Portland Museum of Art, where it runs through Sept. 12, opens in Hartford Oct. 2.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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