(First) Robert Rauschenberg, Opal Reunion, Gift of the Benwood Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Davenport Jr., Ruth S. and A. William Holmberg, and Mr. and Mrs. Olan Mills II (third) Alyson Shotz, All Equations are Wave Equations (fourth) Installation shot, Amy Pleasant: Passing Through
Nandini Makrandi: Chief Curator at Hunter Museum of American Art
Tell us about your position.
I’ve been at the Hunter for 18 years and served as chief curator for a little over nine years. Overall, I am responsible for all art at the Hunter – from setting the artistic and interpretive direction to managing the museum collection, to organizing exhibitions and research and writing.
What led you to this career?
A degree in art and a love of painting and drawing. I have worked in various types of museums since I was 14 and found out that it could be a career when I was in graduate school.
Tell us about the museum you work at.
The Hunter is focused on American art from the 1700s to today, and it’s wonderful to relate the artwork we acquire and exhibit to people’s everyday lives. Art speaks to the things that matter to all of us, and we can use it as a starting point for dialogue and opening doors to understanding among us.
What does your curation process look like?
A curator’s role is multi-layered. I track art world trends and follow the development of artists, which involves museum, gallery, and art studio visits, reading and researching, and understanding the larger world and issues affecting it. In planning an exhibition calendar, I’m looking five to seven years down the road, as exhibitions are confirmed years in advance.
What do you enjoy about curating?
Artists can make us see the world in new ways. I enjoy learning from artists and seeing what compels them.
What are some challenges that accompany curation?
Balancing the wide variety of art forms and styles – from the past and the present – while telling stories that speak to the different people who visit us. We’re also balancing regional and national expectations – the Hunter is one of a few museums dedicated solely to American art, and we try to bring nationally renowned artists and artwork to our area.
What do you hope guests will gain from their visit?
I hope they will find something that moves them, something that challenges them, and something that makes them curious enough to go to the library or to Google to learn more. I want guests to enjoy the museum and to feel it is relevant to things they are thinking about in their own lives.