By Tara Bennett
This week, the LSU Museum of Art welcomes Katie Pfohl to the museum staff as its new curator.
It’s hard to tell who’s more excited: the museum or Pfohl.
“This is such a fantastic opportunity,” said Pfohl. “I was really excited about the idea of working in Louisiana especially. I think it’s a part of the country that has this incredibly vibrant international history and international influences. So with the kind of work I do and the stuff I’m interested in I think it was really an ideal chance to really build something exciting for Louisiana and for Baton Rouge.”
Growing up, Pfohl always had a high interest in the art world, and would express interest in becoming a photographer, welder, novel writer, sculptor or painter.
“I was always very creative and was looking for outlets for that creativity,” said Pfohl. “It never really occurred to me that becoming a curator or an art historian would be a thing one could do for a job. And then I got to college and started taking all of these incredible classes looking at cultural history through art.”
Pfohl received her Ph.D at Harvard University in art history, and a B.A. from Northwestern in American Studies. She became interested in how art told stories about the past, and how it can bring history to the present for people. She was really interested in studying the relationship between the United States and the Middle East, and moved abroad to Morocco for a time. She has also done extensive research and travel in Europe, the Middle East and South America, most recently in Queretaro, Mexico, Giverny, France and Cairo, Egypt. Her experience and interests lead her to focus on the American artist from an international perspective as her area of expertise.
“I’ve been looking and examining American artists who have been abroad or were really influenced by artistic traditions outside the United States,” said Pfohl.
Along with her Harvard background, Pfohl is also a graduate of the Whitney Museum of Art Independent Study Program, and most recently worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There she served in the planning and organization of an upcoming exhibition for the American Art Department, and contributed one of the major essays for the catalogue. She has also served as the Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum Education and Interpretative Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston.
“Katie comes with a stellar background in academia and museums,” stated LSU Museum of Art Executive Director Jordana Pomeroy in a press release. “Her dynamic ideas about the collection, passion for art and community, and warm collegiality came across quickly to the search committee, the art history faculty, and Vice Provost Jane Cassidy. Her impeccable credentials and references cannot convey how much we simply liked Katie, and saw her as a good fit with the team.”
Pfohl began her new curator position in May where she is researching about the museum’s collection. Energetic, passionate, and enthusiastic about the LSU Museum of Art, Pfohl will focus on bringing new programming and exhibitions to enhance the museum’s reputation as a venue for an international range of art, including bringing in local and international artists as well as musicians.
“For me I think museums should be fun, so one of the things that we’re going to be working really hard to do is make the museum a really fun, inclusive place,” said Pfohl. “One of our big goals is to create programming to have people really get excited about being at the museum.”
Currently, one of Pfohl’s goals is to reinstall the museum’s permanent collection, which possesses over 5,000 pieces of art, a lot of which have not been on display for some time.
“We’re going to work to reinstall that collection in a new and modern way and I think it’s really going to surprise people with some of the things we have,” said Pfohl. “I don’t think people realize what we have, and how amazing it’s going to look.”
For more information on upcoming programming and exhibits, visit www.lsumoa.org.