Founded in 1861 as one of the earliest women’s colleges (and the first to become co-educational in 1969), the College opened its doors with both an art gallery and an observatory, signaling Vassar’s enduring educational philosophy of sending students “to the source.” Today’s Art Center, designed by Cesar Pelli, is an accredited modern museum whose collections originated with a superb acquisition of Hudson River School paintings at the College’s inception. Between then and now the collection has grown to more than 21,000 works, charting the history of art from Ancient Egypt to the present, and featuring important examples of modern and contemporary painting, sculpture and photography as well as Old Master paintings and works on paper. A locus for encounters with original works of art, the museum is an engine for experimentation that inspires student and faculty research projects in and beyond art history, while fostering connections across all academic disciplines from the humanities to the sciences. Its purpose is to elicit the excitement of discovery, to promote critical and creative thinking, to deepen visual literacy, and to foster in students a full sensorium of intellect and emotion in order to expand imagination and openness to the world around them.
As the public face of the Art Center and leader of an excellent staff, the Director represents Vassar and the Art Center to patrons and partners nationally and globally, is responsible for stewarding and strengthening the assets of the Art Center by judiciously acquiring new works and encouraging significant gifts and bequests to the collection, and encourages a working environment that empowers both innovation and collaboration.