Jason T. Busch, the Director of the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM), has announced that Emelie Gevalt will become curator of folk art at the museum beginning November 2019. Gevalt comes to AFAM from the Art of the Americas department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she has been instrumental in launching the museum’s strategic folk art initiative, including preparations for a Henry Luce Foundation-funded exhibition on works in the museum’s folk art collection, Collecting Stories: The Invention of Folk Art opening in May 2020. Prior to that position, she served in leadership roles at Christie’s in New York in the Estates, Appraisals, and Valuations department. Gevalt is pursuing her doctorate in art history at the University of Delaware, where she is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Curatorial Track PhD Fellow, focusing on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American art, decorative arts, and material culture. She succeeds Stacy C. Hollander, who left the museum in June 2019.
“Emelie Gevalt is a leader in a generation of curators who are shifting the field of folk art with impressive intellectual rigor and boundless curiosity in connections between the past and present,” says Busch. “My colleagues and I look forward to Gevalt’s important role in defining the next chapter of the museum as AFAM approaches its sixtieth anniversary.”
Prior to her seven years at Christie’s Gevalt assisted in the management of a private collection in New York. She has held internships at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Yale Center for British Art. Gevalt has a master’s degree from the Winterthur Program in American material culture at the University of Delaware and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. Her work has been published in Antiques and Fine Art magazine and, most recently, in Chipstone Foundation’s 2018 edition of American Furniture, which features her article “Revisiting Taunton: Robert Crosman, Esther Stevens Brazer, and the Changing Interpretations of Taunton Chests.”
“I am thrilled to join the American Folk Art Museum during an exciting time of development for the institution and the field. I look forward to dedicating myself to the interpretation of the museum’s exceptional collection, working with the team to create innovative exhibitions that will seek to provoke new ways of thinking about folk art, in both historical and contemporary contexts. Drawing on my experience working with collectors in the New York City art world, I plan to focus on building relationships that will generate continued enthusiasm and support for the museum's collections, exhibitions, and programs,” said Gevalt.
While at AFAM Gevalt is charged with curating exhibitions and authoring publications, maintaining and expanding the museum‘s collection, cultivating relationships for major donor gifts and institutional grants to support the museum’s exhibitions, and collaborating with the museum’s education department to design innovative programming. She will also continue the mission-driven practice of working dynamically with other institutions to share the museum’s 8,500-piece collection and scholarship.
Founded in 1961, the American Folk Art Museum is the premier institution devoted to the aesthetic appreciation of historic folk art and creative expressions of contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and abroad. Now celebrating the thirtieth anniversary in its Lincoln Square location in New York City, the museum preserves, conserves, and interprets a comprehensive collection of the highest quality, with objects dating from the eighteenth century to the present.