Kate Wiley (second from left) is shown in the Frank Raysor Center for the Study of Works on Paper at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, looking at prints with (from left to right) Richard Waller, Jennie Runnels, and Frank Raysor.

 

Kate Wiley, ‘20, an art history major and archaeology minor, became interested in museum work when she realized the power of curation. She was fascinated by a curator’s ability to emphasize different aspects of an artwork and shift its reception solely through the act of placing or hanging the work, without physically altering the piece at all.

She says, “For me, curation is a creative outlet. I curate mini-exhibitions in my apartment with just three or four printed reproductions of artwork. It’s invigorating to feel my reaction to a piece shift in relation to its surroundings.”

Kate began working with University Museums in the fall of her sophomore year as a museum attendant. During the spring semester of her sophomore year, she co-curated an exhibition with five other students titled Downgraded and Upcycled: A Museum Studies Exhibition About Legacy Media under the direction of Elizabeth Schlatter, Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions, University Museums.

During her junior year, she was awarded the 2019 Harnett Summer Research Fellowship, established by Joel and Lila Harnett in 2002. Through the fellowship, Kate had the opportunity to co-curate two exhibitions with Richard Waller, Executive Director, University Museums: Satire & Social Criticism: Prints by William Hogarth from the Collection and The Age of Hogarth and Piranesi: Masterpieces of Eighteenth-Century European Printmaking. She was selected to present her research at the Southeastern Museums Conference this October in Charleston, South Carolina, as part of the Student Work in Museums Seminar.

In preparing for The Age of Hogarth and Piranesi exhibition, Kate worked alongside Jennie Runnels, Permanent Collection Registrar and Manager of the Frank Raysor Center for the Study of Works on Paper, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, identifying and cataloging prints from Frank Raysor’s collection that she, Frank Raysor, and Richard Waller selected to include in the exhibition. Doing what she described as “the most intense research she’s ever done,” Kate was given the name of an artist and a physical print and asked to identify its title and date through other museums’ databases and catalogues of the artist’s work.

As part of her fellowship, Kate also had the opportunity to travel to New York and meet with six University of Richmond alumnae working in different sectors of the art world. She gained insider knowledge about the responsibilities of their positions, which ranged from art insurer to gallery assistant to curator. Through talking with and learning from the University Museums staff, alumni, and VMFA staff, Kate has a much better understanding of the careers that she can pursue upon finishing her last year at the University of Richmond.