Allen Memorial Art Museum appoints two new curators

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Allen Memorial Art Museum appoints two new curators
Kinney has six years of experience working with academic, school, and teacher programs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she held positions focused on interpreting museum collections for audiences ranging from elementary students to post-doctoral scholars.

OBERLIN, OH.- Hannah Wirta Kinney and Alexandra O. Letvin have been appointed as assistant curators at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. Both begin their posts this fall.

Hannah Wirta Kinney will oversee the museum’s Office of Academic Programs, which was endowed through a challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and matching gifts. Kinney will work closely with Oberlin College faculty to plan class visits and facilitate robust use of the museum’s collections to enhance learning in a variety of disciplines. She joins the staff on September 23 as assistant curator of academic programs at the Allen.

Kinney has six years of experience working with academic, school, and teacher programs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she held positions focused on interpreting museum collections for audiences ranging from elementary students to post-doctoral scholars. She has also led educational programs at The Brooklyn Museum for visitors who are blind or have low vision. In addition to her background in museum education, Kinney has taught at the University of Oxford and William Paterson University. Most recently, she has been responsible for research and teaching with the historic cast collection at the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art in New York.

Kinney earned her doctorate in art history from the University of Oxford in the UK, where her research focused on 17th-century Florentine sculpture. While earning a master’s degree at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, Kinney helped to organize the exhibition Envisioning 19th-Century New York. Her undergraduate degree is from Sarah Lawrence College.

In her work at the Allen, Kinney says, she is especially interested in helping college students to “use museum objects to explore complex concepts, construct visual arguments, and collaborate with fellow students—skills that translate to a broad range of 21st-century careers.”

Alexandra Letvin, who as of November 1 will oversee the museum’s outstanding collection of European and American art up to 1900, comes to the Allen from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she has been the Andrew W. Mellon and Maude de Schauensee Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow since 2017 in the European painting and sculpture department. In this position she curated an exhibition titled Crossing Borders: Painting in the Crown of Aragon, 1400-1500 and also reinstalled the museum’s main 18th-century gallery, among other achievements.

Prior to Philadelphia, Letvin served as the Meadows/Kress/Prado Curatorial Fellow, a two-year position split between the Meadows Museum in Dallas, Texas, and the Museo del Prado in Madrid. While at the Meadows, she organized the exhibitions Goya: A Lifetime of Graphic Invention and The Meadows Collects: 50 Years of Spanish Art in Texas. Letvin also spent two years at the Baltimore Museum of Art as the Carlson-Cowart Fellow and as a cataloguer.

Letvin earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in art history at Johns Hopkins University. Her PhD dissertation focused on the 17th-century Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán. She attended Williams College as an undergraduate, an experience that, she says, “taught me the importance of a college art museum both as an educational resource and as a forum for shaping campus discourse.”

“My colleagues and I are delighted to welcome Drs. Kinney and Letvin to the Allen in positions key to our educational mission and curatorial work,” said Museum Director Andria Derstine. “Each has significant experience and a broad range of interests that will bring new perspectives to the museum’s collection, expanding our work with the public, from our local community to international audiences.”

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