On Thursday, December 6th, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, MA, announced the appointment of their first curator of American Art, Austen Barron Bailly. Bailly is coming to us from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) where she was Associate Curator of American Art and helped to organize LACMA's iteration of The Modern West: American Landscapes, 1890-1950, which examined the role of the American West in the maturing of American modernism. Prior to her years out west, she held an appointment at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Wildenstein and Co., Inc in New York.
According to the museum, Bailly was selected for "her interdisciplinary and adventuresome curatorial approach" and will develop the "American art program focusing on exhibitions, new interpretation in the galleries, and expanding the museum's collection which currently includes paintings, decorative arts, photographs, folk art, and textiles representing over 300 years of New England and American art and culture." Her arrival at the PEM has come during the museum’s $650 million campaign and expansion project, first announced in October 2011. The expansion, to be designed by Rick Mather Architects, will add up to 75,000 square feet of new galleries including a new public program and education space and improvements to collections storage and conservation functions. Working with this impending expansion, Bailly, along with Trevor Smith, their Curator of Contemporary Art, and the rest of their curatorial staff will be able to more effectively create new installations that recontextualize and highlight artistic connections culled from their already vast collection of art.
We at BR&S are happy to welcome her to the area and excited to see what will develop from her curatorial direction.