Kim Conaty, the assistant curator of drawings and prints at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was appointed curator for the Rose Art Museum on Nov. 3. Conaty will plan exhibitions, interpret the Rose’s collection and evaluate potential exhibitions for the museum, when she joins the Rose’s staff in December. 

To say that the Rose has undergone a significant revival in the last six years is an understatement, and this Board salutes the Rose for its shrewd leadership choices and continuing role in both the Brandeis community and larger art world. Conaty’s hiring joins an announced windfall of 48 new works from the collection of businessman Stephen M. Salny. Additionally, the Rose opened its first-ever satellite gallery earlier this year in the form of Rosebud, a Moody Street space for the museum’s video collection which also hopes to better integrate the Rose into the Waltham community, encouraging residents to come on-campus and enjoy the museum’s wider collection.

In the face of these successes, it is hard to remember that in just 2009, the Rose was on the brink of closing its doors forever when the Board of Trustees announced plans to sell the museum’s collection, according to a Feb. 24, 2009 Justice article. After students and faculty protested and national news outlets publicized the decision, then-University President Jehuda Reinharz backed down and eventually abandoned the plan to sell the Rose’s collection. The museum, and Henry and Lois D. Foster Director Chris Bedford, have not taken this new opportunity lightly and have made choices, particularly in recent weeks, that solidify the Rose’s position within the art world in praiseworthy ways.

First, the opening of Rosebud is a testament to both the size of the Rose’s collection and its success as a museum, such that both the Rose and the University would take the financial risk in purchasing a new location. While Rosebud is open to all, it is heartening that Bedford told the Justice in an Oct. 13 article that the Rose sees itself “in the coming years, becoming more of a civic museum for Waltham.” 

Next, Conaty’s hiring showcases the Rose’s draw within the art world and is an excellent leadership decision. Pulling a curator away from one of the most celebrated museums worldwide is a testament to the Rose’s revival, one which can be seen in Conaty’s comments to BrandeisNOW that the Rose is “one of the leading university art museums in the country.” Conaty has already announced that she will work for the Rose full-time, as opposed to the current curator-at-large’s part time work, and she will complete the first thorough review of the Rose’s collection since 2008. For the Rose to best serve the community, it must obviously first be well aware of the scope and distinctions of its collection. This is work that Conaty is more than suited to, given her experience at MoMA.

Finally, Salny’s donations indicate the Rose’s staying power to those with a connection to it and its position as an institute to which collectors are interested in donating. We encourage the University community to celebrate the Rose’s recent successes and remember its central place in both campus culture, and art culture at large.