Spotlight on BGC Alumni: Ronald T. Labaco

Ronald T. Labaco, decorative arts and design curator and historian and BGC alumni (MA 2002), has been appointed the Marcia Docter Curator at the Museum of Art and Design.  Since 2007, Labaco had been  the Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the High Museum in Atlanta, and prior to that was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where he produced the first major U.S. museum retrospective on Ettore Sottsass (2006) and coauthored the catalogue Ettore Sottsass: Architect and Designer.

When Ron entered the Bard Graduate Center in 1996, the MA program was in its infancy, yet Ron already knew the unique role the BGC played. “Just having a program like the BGC meant I could pursue a career in the field of decorative arts and design history.” Throughout his coursework at the BGC and then later as a member of the BGC’s Exhibition Department, Ron gained valuable experiences working with objects, assisting curators, and meeting leading scholars in the field. The knowledge and skills he acquired prepared him for the challenges he faced in working with living designers while curating the exhibition on  Sottsass  and when he organized the exhibition Eva Zeisel: My Century for the BGC at the International Art + Design Fair, New York in 2006.

During his tenure at the High Museum, Labaco helped to develop and strengthened the museum’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century design, which he partially documented in the recent exhibition Under Construction: Building a Contemporary Design Collection for the High (2010). He also co-curated The Allure of the Automobile: Driving in Style, 1930-1965 (2010), tracing the evolution of the luxury motorcar before and after World War II in Europe and America.  Among the exhibitions he curated at the High are Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary American Craft (2009-2010) and Anthony Ames, Architect: Residential Landscapes (2009), A Graceful Industry: Bentwood Furniture (2008), and Toshiko Takaezu: Master Ceramist (2007). 

Ron’s passion for contemporary American design has now found a home at the Museum of Arts and Design, where he plans to continue raising the public’s awareness about today’s designers.  Ron is particularly interested in eliminating the misperception that there is a lack of good designers in America, and hopes to find new and innovative ways to showcase young designers.


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Ronald T. Labaco, Marcia Docter Curator at the Museum of Art and Design,

Photograph © Sarah Dorio 2010