Jessica May, a curator known for her leadership at the Portland Museum of Art, was named to a newly created position this week by the Trustees of Reservations. The role will give her full curatorial oversight over the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, and all public art commissions at the array of Trustees properties across Massachusetts.
May left her job as deputy director and chief curator in Portland in September. She starts at the Trustees on April 12.
Best known for its conservation of natural and heritage properties like the Crane Estate in Ipswich, the nonprofit Trustees began integrating the deCordova into its operations in 2019. The move, characterized as neither an acquisition nor a merger, had been initiated by the museum as it sought long-term financial stability. Prior to the integration, former deCordova executive director John Ravenal (who left in 2020) called the move a “tremendous opportunity” for his organization to continue operating autonomously while also under the financial umbrella of the Trustees.
May’s appointment represents the braiding of deCordova offerings with broader Trustees cultural programming, while also putting a larger Trustees stamp on the deCordova itself. May will assume Ravenal’s responsibilities for the museum as well as a much-expanded purview for visual arts across the entire Trustees organization. Sarah Montross has been serving as interim artistic director at the deCordova since July. She plans to return to a senior curator role there upon May’s arrival.