RICHMOND, VA.-The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has named Barry Shifman to be its Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Late 19th and Early 20th Century Decorative Arts. Shifman comes to VMFA after 18 years as head of the department of decorative arts at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
"We are delighted to welcome a scholar with Barry's depth of experience to this important post on our curatorial staff," says Alex Nyerges, VMFA's director.
"VMFA has one of the most significant public collections outside Paris of decorative arts in the French Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century decorative arts is rich in both its scope and its depth, featuring masterpieces by key designers. Barry will be an essential addition to our efforts as we continue scholarly research on our existing collection and as we expand for the future," Nyerges says.
In addition to coordinating numerous loan exhibitions for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Shifman has organized exhibitions on a diverse array of subjects, including American Arts and Crafts, decorative arts from the Kremlin, American furniture, Contemporary glass, and Wedgwood ceramics.
Among his recent accomplishments in Indianapolis was a major reinstallation of the museum's decorative arts collection.
Before joining the Indianapolis staff, he worked in curatorial and research positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles; and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Cal.
He has published extensively, and his latest effort, "Crace and Pugin: The Furnishing of John Naylor's Leighton Hall," was published in 2006 in Furniture History.
Shifman earned a bachelor's degree in art history from UCLA in 1978 and a master's degree in art history from the University of Chicago in 1981. He has also studied in Paris and London and attended the Royal Collection Course in Windsor, England.
He began work at VMFA July 25.
Shifman assumes his new duties as construction continues on the largest expansion project in the museum's history. It will increase gallery space by 50 percent and re-orient the main entrance to the Boulevard, one of Richmond's primary thoroughfares. The interior of the new addition will establish connections between the new and existing buildings so that visitors may easily circulate without retracing their steps. Museum officials say this will enable them to organize the VMFA collections in more meaningful ways. A new 4-acre sculpture garden is also being added. A new 600-car parking deck, also part of the expansion project, opened in late April.
The expansion is expected to be complete by 2009.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is an educational institution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The museum is on the Boulevard at Grove Avenue. The galleries are open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For additional information about exhibitions and programs, telephone (804) 340-1400 or visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Web site, www.vmfa.museum.