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Museum Director Awarded Curatorial Fellowship

Posted On February 27, 2015 | 15:35 pm | by jessicas | Permalink

Dumbarton Oaks Museum Director and Curator Gudrun Bühl is one of twelve recipients of the Center for Curatorial Leadership’s 2015 Fellowship. She joins the eighth class of the CCL program, which aims to provide accomplished curators professional training that will help them become visionary leaders of art museums.

In early January, Gudrun headed to New York, where she spent the first two weeks of the fellowship with her co-fellows under the guidance of CCL’s cofounder and director Elizabeth Easton and with Columbia Business School professors alongside eleven other curators from museums across the United States and Europe. The introductory training provided “an outstanding level of museum business classes,” Bühl says of the packed program. Business professors led courses on theories of change management and strategic planning in the morning, with afternoons full of talks by well-known museum directors and cultural business experts, meetings with curators, directors, and trustees from the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, and visits to New York museums as well as ventures like Google’s Creative Lab.

Throughout the spring, Gudrun Bühl will embark on mentoring a local student who has had limited exposure to museums. In April, she will shadow Director Martin Roth of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum during a weeklong residency. The program will culminate in May when the CCL fellows are reunited in Los Angeles for a weeklong program focused on using management and leadership strategies to devise actionable plans for leaders of local cultural organizations.

For Gudrun Bühl, one of the highlights of the training was the opportunity to speak with her colleagues about the similarities that Dumbarton Oaks shares with other museums as well as the unique features that distinguish it from peer institutions. The operations of Dumbarton Oaks are certainly not as attendance-driven as those of other museums, allowing Bühl and her museum team to focus on its place as a nexus of scholarship. “Here at Dumbarton Oaks, it’s so much easier to reach out to the specialists and to keep up-to-date because we are surrounded by scholars almost year-round,” she says.

At the same time, Bühl found, one commonality was each curator’s interest in examining the relevance of the museum’s work and the alignment between a museum’s mission statement and its achieved successful outreach—the promises a museum has made to its community and the public. During their discussions, Bühl says, she was inspired to “think about how we fulfill the mission and what we can do to strengthen it—it’s not just something you write up and put on a website.”