Gallery Appoints Liliana Milkova as Nolen Curator of Education and Academic Affairs

Liliana Milkova

Liliana Milkova. Courtesy Oberlin College. Photo: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Milkova is a leader in museum pedagogy and cross-curricular collaborations

The Yale University Art Gallery is delighted to announce the appointment of Liliana Milkova as the next Nolen Curator of Education and Academic Affairs, beginning January 7, 2019. In this role, Milkova assumes leadership of the Gallery’s Education Department, overseeing public education, public programs, and academic affairs. The department embodies the museum’s mission of encouraging appreciation for and understanding of art through direct engagement with original works. The Gallery promotes active learning through research, teaching, and dialogue among Yale students, faculty, artists, scholars, and the public, and it is committed to providing access to all who wish to learn, through free admission, free programs, and free class visits. The Gallery’s educational outreach extends far beyond the museum’s walls; various online initiatives offer opportunities to art lovers and students from around the globe.

A widely respected thinker and practitioner in the field of museum education, Milkova has served a distinguished tenure as Curator of Academic Programs at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Ohio, since 2009. At Oberlin, she significantly expanded the museum’s outreach, developing innovative strategies for teaching with the collection across the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music. She has organized numerous faculty workshops and public programs, overseen teaching exhibitions, and spearheaded programs for premedical students, administrative and professional staff, and pre-K audiences. Milkova has published on many topics, including pedagogy, 20th-century art, photography, and political propaganda. She holds a PH.D. in modern and contemporary art from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and an A.B. in art history and old world archaeology from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Before Oberlin, Milkova held several prestigious fellowships, including a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

“The Gallery’s educational mission is at the heart of what we do, and we strive to be a dynamic and generative leader within the college and university art museum community,” explains Stephanie Wiles, the Henry J. Heinz II Director. “I had the pleasure of working with Liliana for several years when I was the director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. She is an impressive thinker and outstanding colleague who made the museum a central focus of learning and engagement at Oberlin over the past decade. Liliana is well suited to the Nolen Curator role given her demonstrated passion for campus and community outreach and her expertise with interdisciplinary collaborations. Yale University is a place where exciting intersections in research, scholarship, and discovery happen every day, and I am confident that Liliana will bring a new vitality to the museum by capitalizing on these opportunities in relation to the Gallery’s marvelous holdings and resources.”

The Nolen Curator leads a talented team including Jessica Sack, the Jan and Frederick Mayer Senior Associate Curator of Public Education; Sydney Skelton Simon, the Bradley Assistant Curator of Academic Affairs; and Molleen Theodore, Associate Curator of Programs. The Gallery’s Nolen Center for Art and Education is home to these and other staff members, fellows, and interns, as well as several object-study classrooms and the Nolen Center Library, which is open to the public on select days or by appointment. The Center is also an exciting hub for the collaborative work of various groups, including the undergraduate Gallery Guides, the graduate Wurtele Gallery Teachers, and the Programs Advisory Committee. Each year, the museum welcomes approximately 14,000 K–12 students and 10,000 students from Yale courses and other colleges and universities. In any given year, countless other visitors participate in the hundreds of public programs on offer, including gallery talks, performances, lecture series, and studio programs.

One exciting challenge for Milkova in her new role will be to find ways of more fully integrating the Gallery’s growing resources at Yale West Campus into the museum’s educational mission. The Margaret and Angus Wurtele Study Center is an open storage and object-study space housing more than 36,000 three-dimensional artworks from across the museum’s encyclopedic collection. The Leslie P. and George H. Hume, B.A.1969, American Furniture Study Center will open at West Campus in fall 2019 as the new home for the museum’s working library of 1,100 examples of furniture and wooden objects from the early 17th through the 21st century. The Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage houses studio and laboratory spaces where Gallery conservators work alongside materials scientists on a range of projects; this center provides another rich resource for teaching and learning, especially in regard to technical art history.

Milkova states, “I am excited to find new ways of connecting the Gallery’s exceptional art collection with the unparalleled resources available at the University, and to cultivate new partnerships and expand existing ones across campus and beyond. Art has the potential to help us better understand both ourselves and others and to see the world through others’ eyes. Thoughtful and early engagement with art can foster nimble, interdisciplinary thinkers, careful and critical observers, and interculturally competent and empathetic human beings—all so important to Yale’s mission and to fostering responsible and visionary leaders.”