Last year, the Johnson was granted funding by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to hire a one-year position that would strengthen ties between educators and curators in the shared task of interpretive programming. Kress Fellowships have been awarded to the Williams College Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and others.

Brittany Rubin shares a Book of Hours from the collection with a Fall 2015 Medieval Studies class in the Steven and Ann Ames Gallery.

In August we welcomed Brittany Rubin to the staff as our Kress Interpretive Fellow. Brittany earned a BA in literature, art history, and religious studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a master’s in art history from the University of Massachusetts. She previously held positions at the Smith College Museum of Art and the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst. 

Brittany has become a key part of our efforts to explore new ways to teach, interpret, and understand the permanent collection by presenting different learning experiences in the galleries. Working under the guidance of Cathy Klimaszewski, associate director and Harriett Ames Charitable Trust Curator of Education, Alana Ryder, Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs, and Andy Weislogel, the Seymour R. Askin, Jr. ’47 Curator, Earlier European and American Art, Brittany has been assisting with university class visits and a variety of public installations, including a collaboration between the Museum and the Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections celebrating the life of Professor M. H. Abrams (1912–2015). 

Brittany’s research, installations, and teaching are focused on the Johnson’s collections of Greek, Roman, and European art before 1800. Her fall teaching duties laid the groundwork for a series of new installations that highlight a range of topics, featuring works and subjects that might not normally be approached in this setting. Each of the four galleries on the second floor will include one of these installations during the current spring semester: “Saints, Sinners, and Sex,” “The Fourth Wall: Theater and the Theatricality of Life in 18th-Century Printmaking,” and a selection of Renaissance prints depicting ancient Greek and Roman stories are on view now; a new installation of 17th-century Baroque portrait prints will be on view later this semester.  

The work of this Fellowship spans the curatorial and educational spectrum. In addition to curating installations, researching, and writing labels, Brittany is preparing new content for the cell phone tour available for selected works on view on the second floor. She leads tours for Museum educators and docents to help train them to teach with her installations, and she will continue to lead discussions for Cornell classes. Her installations explore unexpected topics that provide all of our audiences with opportunities to see prints not often on view, and design new environments for learning and enjoyment in the permanent collection galleries.