Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces the addition of two directors, welcoming Margaret C. Conrads, Ph.D. as director of curatorial affairs and Robin Groesbeck as director of exhibitions and interpretive presentations.
“We’re delighted to welcome Margi and Robin, both well-respected museum professionals with strong track records of successful leadership,” said Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow. “We look forward to their involvement in furthering our mission of welcoming all and sharing the history of America through great works of art.”
Conrads will join the museum in March, providing strategic vision for design and development of the permanent collection and exhibitions, overseeing ongoing research and scholarship, as well as leading the curatorial, collection management, and library and archives teams.
Conrads comes to Crystal Bridges from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, where she served as deputy director of art and research, managing the curatorial, conservation, exhibitions, library and archives, and design and installation divisions. Previously, Conrads spent 20 years at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., where she was the Samuel Sosland senior curator of American art.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in art history from Connecticut College in New London, Conn., master’s degree in art history from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., and Ph.D. in art history at City University of New York, N.Y., and is a graduate of the Getty Museum Leadership Institute.
Conrads’ doctorate concentration was American art to 1945, and she has received international recognition for the exhibition and catalog, Winslow Homer and the Critics: Forging a National Art in the 1870s (Princeton University Press). She has organized national and international touring exhibitions, collaborating with a variety of institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the High Museum of Art. She’s the co-curator of American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and opening in 2015.
While at the Nelson-Atkins, Conrads was the editor and primary author of The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: American Paintings to 1945. She contributed select essays for Crystal Bridges’ inaugural collection catalog, Celebrating the American Spirit, and has published writings on key American artists in the Crystal Bridges’ collection, including Eastman Johnson, Thomas Cole, Thomas Hart Benton, Alexander Calder, and Andrew Wyeth, among others.
“Margi is clearly a distinguished curator whose scholarly research and vision will continue to enhance our dynamic institution,” said Bigelow.
"I am thrilled to join Crystal Bridges at this exciting time in its development,” said Conrads. “It is a privilege to be a part of an institution dedicated to welcoming all to experience the power of art. I look forward to working with the talented team as the museum continues to deepen its collections, exhibitions, and research activities. My husband David and I are eager to get to know beautiful Northwest Arkansas and call it home."
In addition, Robin Groesbeck recently joined the museum as director of exhibitions and interpretive presentations. Groesbeck oversees the design and development of exhibitions, art installations, and facilitates interpretive activities to promote engagement and learning inside and outside the museum.
Groesbeck most recently served as senior director of exhibits and design at California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. She has helped organize more than 70 exhibitions and installations at museums including the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, where she was the deputy director for art and programs and director of museum services, as well as the Field Museum in Chicago, where she was director of exhibition. Groesbeck earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and is a Getty Museum Leadership Institute graduate as well
“Robin’s years of experience developing exhibitions and interpretative tools will further our commitment to engagement and add to the positive museum experience for our visitors,” said Bigelow.
“Crystal Bridges is such a unique place to explore art, architecture, and nature,” said Groesbeck. “I’m excited to help provide opportunities for visitors to have emotionally-moving and intellectually-stimulating experiences.”