News Release - The Huntington Names Christina Nielsen as New Director of the Art Collections

Posted on Thu., Aug. 16, 2018
The curator of the collection and exhibition program at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has also worked in curatorial and leadership roles at the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

SAN MARINO, Calif.— The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has appointed Christina Nielsen as the Hannah and Russel Kully Director of the Art Collections, Karen R. Lawrence, The Huntington's incoming president announced today. Nielsen, currently William and Lia Poorvu Curator of the Collection and Exhibition Program at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, assumes her new position on Oct. 15. Nielsen has worked for 20 years in curatorial and leadership roles in museums across the United States, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Chicago, and recently completed a fellowship at the Center for Curatorial Leadership in New York.

At The Huntington, Nielsen will be responsible for the development, care, and interpretation of some 36,000 museum objects in the European and American art collections, as well as their display in two buildings –the Huntington Art Gallery and the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. She also will lead the art collections' professional staff and provide vision for the institution's temporary exhibitions program, which includes large-scale shows presented in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery. She replaces Catherine Hess, The Huntington's chief curator of European art, who has served as interim director since March of 2017.

"The Huntington's European and American art collections have inspired artists as well as the visiting public over the past century," said Lawrence, "and as we look toward our next 100 years, the collections are poised to become even more relevant within the dynamic and richly diverse arts environment of Southern California and the nation more broadly. I am convinced that Christina is precisely the leader who will help us accomplish key goals—growing the resources, impact, and prominence of the art collections and fostering inventive interaction with our great collections in the library and botanical gardens."

In her role at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Nielsen oversees a cross-departmental team working in the archives, conservation, curatorial, and registration departments, on projects that have given expanding audiences greater access to the museum's collection of art and archival materials. She has also worked closely with colleagues in museum education to revamp the interpretive framework for exhibitions, connecting historic works of art with contemporary experience, issues, and ideas.

In her 2016 exhibition "Off the Wall: Gardner and her Masterpieces," Nielsen reconsidered what the collection meant to the public in Gardner's own lifetime, and what it means today. Her most recent exhibition, "Henry James and American Painting," a collaboration with the Morgan Library in New York, examined the symbiosis between literature and the visual arts, a line of inquiry she intends to explore further with The Huntington's extraordinary multidisciplinary holdings.

"I've always believed that The Huntington, with its enviable art collections, research library, and gardens, occupied a unique role in the cultural landscape of the Los Angeles area," said Nielsen. "And, in the 15 years since I last lived in LA, that landscape has evolved so far so fast! It's now truly one of the most vibrant and diverse artistic centers in the world, and I can't wait to get back there and start working with The Huntington's fabulous collections and staff to see how we can continue to advance scholarship and also fuel contemporary creativity."

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Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260,
Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140,

About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at

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