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Addison Gallery hires new director

Judith F. Dolkart, deputy director of The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, will be the Addison’s first female director.

Judith F. Dolkart, deputy director of The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, will be the Addison’s first female director.

Judith F. Dolkart, deputy director of The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, has been hired to be the seventh director of the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover.

Dolkart, 43, will be the Addison’s first female director, succeeding Brian T. Allen, who left Andover in December to become director of the New York Historical Society. She starts in July.

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After growing up in Miami, Dolkart attended Phillips Exeter Academy and then Harvard-Radcliffe College, where she majored in fine arts. Her specialty is in 19th-century French art. Before joining the Barnes in 2010, Dolkart served as associate curator of European Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

“I don’t think you could dream of a better job,” she said Thursday. “The Addison has incredible collections, a great, talented, and creative staff, and it’s wonderful this is a very well-endowed institution with so many supporters. That said, there is still fund-raising to be done to support the institution and make acquisitions. I’m happy to advocate for projects I believe in.”

Without listing any new plans, Dolkart said she’s very interested in technology. She specifically mentioned the efforts of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has an online community manager, curator question-and-answer sessions on Twitter, and a range of other digital features.

“The Addison has a tremendous website already,” said Dolkart. “I’d love to see if we can provide additional voices to the site. The curators, perhaps other members of the Andover community, talking about their connection to objects in the collection.”

During her curatorial career, Dolkart has worked with a range of artists, from Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly to Yinka Shonibare, the British-born artist who spent much of his childhood in Nigeria. The Barnes is known for its collection of Impressionist and early modernist art, with 171 paintings by Renoir, 57 by Cezanne, and multiple works by Van Gogh, Pissarro, and Seurat.

The Addison, which opened in 1931, has more than 17,000 works in a collection devoted to American art, including John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jackson Pollock. In addition, former directors have gone on to other significant jobs in the museum world, including Allen, Adam Weinberg (Whitney Museum of American Art), and Jock Reynolds (Yale University Art Gallery).

“I hope that she will feel so satisfied with the success she makes in the Addison that she won’t want to leave for at least 40 years,” said Sidney Knafel, who chaired the search committee that selected Dolkart. “I think she has enough she wants to do and has enough loyalty in her nature that she will have a good, long tenure at the Addison and not only make an impact on the museum, but make an impact on the campus.”

Geoff Edgers can be reached at gedgers@globe.com.
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