Friday, April 9, 2010

National Gallery Curator Guest Lectures UW20 Class

Students from Professor Rachel Pollack’s UW class on Dutch Art at the National Gallery gathered in JBKO on Tuesday evening to chat with Arthur Wheelock, curator of Northern Baroque Art at the National Gallery.

The event, sponsored by GW Housing Programs, was held in Prof. Pollack’s first floor room in JBKO, where she is a Faculty-in-Residence.

As the guest of the hour, Wheelock enthralled the gathered students with tales of his time as a curator, as well as offering behind-the-scenes vignettes on exhibitions that the students have written about and studied for Professor Pollack’s class.

Wheelock talked about his early education at Williams College, and his 35+ years at the National Gallery, which didn’t have much of a Dutch collection, or a full-time curator for the genre, when he was hired.

Emphasizing the importance of good teachers, Wheelock noted how lucky GWU students are to be studying art history in Washington DC, saying that resources such as the National Gallery, Smithsonian, and countless other cultural institutions are at the fingertips of GW students. He noted that DC-area students studying art can go to any of the collections and actually see the works they are researching, a privilege that students at other schools do not have.

Wheelock also took questions from the crowd, ranging from conservation concerns with oil paintings and his own personal favorites. He said that Jan Vermeer’s Girl with a Red Hat, a small oil on panel piece that is one of the National Gallery’s prized possessions, is a favorite due to the years he has spent studying it.

Photos courtesy of Poppy Lynch

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