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Conversation with the Curator: Meet Karl E. Willers

Friday, January 08, 2021

12:30pm - 1:00pm

Meet the Taubman's new Chief Curator, Dr. Karl Willers!

Karl comes to Roanoke with extensive experience as a museum curator and administrator, advanced scholarship in American and European art since 
the late eighteenth century, and thorough not-for-profit business training. His academic qualifications include a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University and M.B.A. in nonprofit organizations from Yale School of Management. 

Most recently and since 2010, Karl served as Director of the Nassau County Museum of Art on New York’s Long Island — where he successfully oversaw the planning, building and opening of the Manes Family Center for Art & Education, a multi-purpose facility providing expanded galleries for contemporary 
art and new classrooms for museum education. Other professional experiences include his work as Executive Director of the Newport Art Museum in Rhode Island, as Curator for the Dorsky Museum 
at SUNY New Paltz in New York’s Hudson Valley, and as Chief Curator and Curator of European Art at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Much of Karl’s career has been within senior-level curatorial work and guiding advanced courses of study in museum training. Throughout the 1980s, he was Downtown Branch Director at the Whitney Museum of American Art in Lower Manhattan, where he worked closely with the museum’s prestigious Independent Study Program in graduate-level Curatorial Studies.

Following his doctoral work at Yale University where he wrote his dissertation on the late 19th-century French realist painter Gustave Courbet, Karl returned to the Whitney Museum in the late 1990s as Associate Curator and Administrative Coordinator for the millennial exhibition "The American Century: Art and Culture 1900–2000." 
His more recent curatorial projects include "Rimer Cardillo: From the Río de la Plata to the Hudson River Valley,” “Kenny Scharf and Glamorous Graffiti," as well as “The Paintings of Louis Comfort Tiffany.” These and other exhibitions that Karl has organized integrate inclusive artistic endeavor and diverse creative media into broad cross-cultural and interdisciplinary contexts.

A native of Texas who grew up in Auburn, Alabama, and Nashville, Tennessee, Karl “very much looks forward to joining the wonderful team at the Taubman Museum of Art in its pursuit of ambitious museum programs for Roanoke and communities throughout the Blue Ridge region.”

Image courtesy of Amy Pearman