Julia Marciari-Alexander, Director of the Walters Art Museum, is the author of this tri-annual letter.
It is with a great sense of joy and humility that I write to all of you, members of the Museum?s family, as the Walters' new Executive Director. The Walters Art Museum upholds the two tenets that have guided my path as an educator and a museum professional: rigorous scholarship focused on the products of the creativity of men and women from all eras and from across the globe, and a deep commitment to making that scholarship and those objects accessible to all. It is my great hope that we, together, will continue to excel in accomplishing these goals—and that we will have fun doing it!
Many of you have asked me, "Why the Walters?" First, the Walters has soared as an example of best practices in the museum field, with exemplary projects in curatorial and conservation work, innovative public programming, and engaging opportunities for staff, supporters, and visitors to come together around art. The permanent collection is the heart of any museum of excellence, and, under my leadership, we will continue to create exciting opportunities for all visitors to experience the wonders of the Walters in new ways.
Secondly—and more personally—it will be a joy to work each day at this museum among so many objects from my own academic specialty, 17th- and 18th-century French and British art, and also among some that I remember from my earliest days as an art historian, including the Sarcophagus with Dionysius and Ariadne. I am especially eager, however, to join each of you in discovering some new favorite objects in the collection.
This summer the Walters has an exciting program that brings contemporary artists and contemporary art into dialogue with historical art. On July 6, we open Site Unseen: Gregory Vershbow, featuring Vershbow's compelling photographs of the lives of works of art when they are not on public display. Works of art in their own right, these photographs mesmerize the viewer by bringing together contemporary art, museum practice, and historical objects. Just a week later, on July 13, we will be celebrating together a new venture for the Walters, the Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize Finalist Exhibition. The Sondheim Exhibition honors the wonderful work of visual artists from the Baltimore community, and the $25,000 Prize will assist in furthering the career of an artist or collaborative group of artists from our region. Projects like these reflect the productive synergy that arises from the combination of a vibrant visual arts community with great historical works of art.
In closing, I want extend my heartfelt thanks to the Search Committee and the outstanding Board of Trustees for having the faith in me to see this institution into its next years. It is my privilege to become the newest member of the spectacular team of individuals who work tirelessly to make the museum come alive for all. I look forward to working with them and with each of you to create our future by fulfilling the Walters' mission "to bring art and people together." My family and I will see you in the Museum!
Julia Marciari-Alexander, Ph.D.