Telfair Museums in Savannah, Georgia -- the oldest public art museum in the South and the first U.S. museum founded by a woman -- has hired an accomplished art-world veteran as its new chief curator and director of curatorial affairs.
Crawford Alexander Mann III will join Telfair in November 2021 from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., where he has been curator of prints and drawings since 2017. At the Smithsonian, Mann has organized world-class exhibitions including the major upcoming survey Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano. Before the Smithsonian, he served as the Joan and Macon Brock Curator of American Art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, and as the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence, Rhode Island.
Mann holds a master’s degree in art history from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in art history and religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, he is a doctoral candidate at Yale, completing his dissertation titled “When in Rome: Italian Travel and the Pursuit of the Ideal Male Body in Antebellum American Art.” He has authored numerous exhibition catalogs and scholarly publications, lectured internationally, and is a fluent speaker and translator of German and Italian. His many fellowships include those from the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. His research interests include Italian-American artistic exchange on the Grand Tour, artists of the American South, African American printmakers of the 1960s and 1970s, and evolving visual constructions of masculinity, femininity, and gender.
“We continue to attract top talent as one of the South’s leading art museums, and I’m delighted to welcome Alex to Telfair’s leadership team,” said Ben Simons, the museum’s CEO/executive director. “His impressive experience at major institutions, his love of art and history, and his wide-ranging expertise in American art will make us even stronger as we shape our vision for the future. He’s an incredible talent and also a delightful person with inspiring intellectual range and a passion for public engagement with art.”
As part of the museum’s senior leadership team, Mann will oversee a curatorial staff of 23 and a permanent collection of more than 7,000 works of art. Telfair’s collection includes American and European paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts items dating primarily from the 19th century through the present day, with particular strengths in American portraiture, American Impressionism, the Ashcan School, and American and English silver. The museum holds major works by Rembrandt Peale, Thomas Sully, Gari Melchers, Childe Hassam, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Willard Leroy Metcalf, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Robert Henri, George Bellows, William Zorach, Sam Gilliam, and many others, as well as the largest collection of Kahlil Gibran’s visual art in the United States, seminal 20th-century photography by Walker Evans, Helen Levitt, and Bruce Davidson, and essential works by contemporary artists in the museum’s Kirk Varnedoe Collection.
“I’ve long admired Telfair’s handsome buildings and the masterpieces inside,” Mann said. “It will be a privilege to lead this team of curators, educators, and interpreters in celebrating these treasures. I also look forward to hunting for unexplored stories and filling gaps in our collections and programs, so that the museum reflects the full richness of this community. Together we will ensure that Telfair is central to Savannah’s reputation as the creativity capital of the American South.”