Kristina Van Dyke is the Director of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. Van Dyke specializes in African art, a subject that has interested her since her youth. Her lecture, “What is the Future of Museum Collections?” will draw on her experience to consider important issues facing museums. Since the 19th century, American museums have steadily filled their storerooms with rich and varied collections of art from around the globe. When this enterprise started, objects were plentiful and constraints, few. Today, there is a shrinking supply of nonwestern and pre-modern works of art on the market; increasing legal, ethical, and financial constraints to their acquisition; decreased storage capacity in museums; and conservation protocols that often paradoxically restrict the public’s access to so-called “public” collections. The lecture will address the task of creating a stewardship that not only preserves the collections formed over the past two centuries, but also gives them life, perhaps even at the cost of relinquishing total institutional control.
Prior to joining the Pulitzer Foundation, Van Dyke was Curator for Collections and Research at The Menil Collection, where she curated Insistent Objects: David Levinthal’s Blackface; Chance Encounters: the Formation of the de Menils’ African Collection; Objects of Devotion; and Body in Fragments. She also served as an Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Art History at Rice University, Houston. Van Dyke received an MA from Williams College and a PhD from Harvard University, where she specialized on the nature of representation in the oral cultures of Mali.