Interview Column: Kim Conaty
This week, justArts spoke with Kim Conaty, the curator of the Rose Art Museum, about the opening of the Museum this past weekend.
justArts: What’s your favorite part of your job?
Kim Conaty: I work in museums because I love collections, and there’s nothing more exciting to me than finding surprises in collections that you think you know or learning something incredible and new about a work that you thought you knew well. That is one thing I truly enjoy about being at a museum with a great collection; the Rose is absolutely an example of that. My other favorite part of my job is working with artists. Because of my love for collections and [the fact that] I love working with artists, being in a contemporary institution has always been the best place for me.
JA: What were you most excited about for the Rose opening this week?
KC: I thought the opening on Saturday was electrifying. It was so exciting to see so many different people coming into the museum. This is only my second opening — I just started started here last winter — so I was at the February opening, but this is my first fall opening, [which is] obviously a much bigger event. We had so many students, people from the Boston area, curators, York area art people, people who just kind of heard about the show [or] knew one of the artists who was on view. It was just an incredible mix of people, and it was very active the entire time. I think having certain exhibitions, like the David Shrigley Life Model project — where certain visitors were literally in the space, making drawings — made it feel even that much more vibrant.
JA: What do you hope that the community — both Brandeis and greater — takes away from these new exhibits?
KC: I think that this particular group of exhibitions — all of which are, in fact, quite distinct — have a number of larger themes in common, and I find they’re an extremely [inviting] group of exhibitions. I think you can come in with no preconceived notions of what you’re going to see — of art or of art history — and you can still gather so much out of the shows on view. [It seems] almost like you’re seeing behind the scenes of the engine or the brain that is in fact making the rest of the show.
JA: Is there anything else you would like to mention about the exhibitions?
KC: I think what I would like to say is that the exhibitions themselves feel quite inviting to me. I hope that the University community feels extraordinarily invited, all the time, to the Museum. It’s so energizing for us to see these shows at an opening that have hundreds of people in the museum milling around; looking and thinking and talking — that’s what drives us as a museum; that’s what drives us as professionals to do what we do. We just encourage people to come as much as possible. We already have a number of classes that will be visiting this fall. I encourage more professors to reach out to us and bring classes in.