Metropolitan Museum of Art

Denise Murrell New Curator for 19th- and 20th-Century Art

Denise Murrell is new associated curator for 19th- and 20th-century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Know for her inspiring exhibition

Denise Murrell. Courtesy Wallach Columbia.

Denise Murrell. Courtesy Wallach Columbia.

The newly created full-time position of associate curator for 19th and 20th century art, is one of the first hires made by the Met’s director, Max Hollein, who is now one year into his tenure and aims for a multi-discipline, multiethnic direction in one of the world’s largest and firmly established museums. With Denise Murrell he appoints the curator behind the highly praised show — “Posing Modernity: The Black Model From Manet and Matisse to Today” at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, and co-curator of the expanded form at Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Both exhibitions where acclaimed for its scholarship on African influences in modern art. She will take over her new post in January 2020.

Murrell came to art history from a successful career in finance, working at Citicorp and Institutional Investor with an M.B.A. from Harvard University. In February 2014 she received a PhD in art history from Columbia University. Denise Murell is involved in initiatives to create greater diversity within the curatorial and academic professions of art history, and to develop exhibition programs that introduce overlooked narratives of interest to new and broader museum audiences.

“It’s a new day at the Met,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, who championed Dr. Murrell. “What it says about Max is he is willing to do bold things, he is willing to disrupt the normative practices of the museum, he is going to innovate and transform.”

She held a Mellon predoctoral fellowship at Princeton University Art Museum, was a contract lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a dissertation fellow at Columbia’s Reid Hall Paris. Murrell’s publications and conference papers as an independent art historian (Project New Muse) include “Laure of Olympia and More: Manet and 19th Century Black Paris (2017); “The Anterior as Muse: Recent Paintings by Mickalene Thomas” (2012); “Resituating Identity in Yinka Shonibare’s Jardin d’Amour” (2010); and “African Influences in Modern Art” for the Metropolitan Museum Timeline of Art History (2008).



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