Susan Weber. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

Greetings from West 86th Street. Late last month, I had the pleasure of celebrating the commencement of our latest class of students, including twelve MAs and two PhDs. Leading up to graduation, the MA students in the class of 2023 presented their qualifying papers, a rite of passage that brings a great deal of pride to the students and their families, the faculty and staff, and especially to me. This year’s topics ranged from Tudor chimneys to stewardship of collections that relate to the US’s history of enslaving African people. I had the honor of presenting awards for excellence to five students. Talia Perry and Anna Riley shared the Clive Wainwright Award; Madeline Porsella received the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts Award; Tom Tredway won the American Members of CINOA Award; and Pengliang Lu the Lee B. Anderson Foundation Dean’s Prize. I offer thanks to the generous donors who give us the opportunity to recognize emerging scholars in this most meaningful way.

As much joy as the past month has brought, there has also been some sadness. Peter N. Miller, whose tenure at BGC spans twenty-two years, including fifteen as dean, will leave his post at BGC to become president of the American Academy in Rome, effective July 1. We congratulate Peter and take heart in knowing he will be a frequent visitor to 86th Street.

It might seem that after commencement, things would take on a slower summer pace, but nothing could be further from the truth. MA students in the class of 2024 traveled to Paris and Greece with faculty members Jeffrey Collins, Mei Mei Rado (PhD ’18), and Caspar Meyer as part of BGC’s student travel program. Here on 86th Street, in partnership with the Alliance of Museums and Galleries of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), we welcomed to campus five HBCU students from Alfred, Arcadia, Clark Atlanta, and Howard universities as well as the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. They participated in a weeklong program that trained them to curate and interpret museum exhibitions using digital tools. Preparations are now under way for the BGC Summer School, led by assistant professor Meredith Linn and PhD candidate Tova Kadish. This year’s topic is the historical archaeology of New York City.

I encourage you to make room on your calendar to see our current exhibitions before they close on July 9. Staging the Table in Europe 1500–1800, curated by associate professor Deborah Krohn, and Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest, curated by Hadley Jensen (MA ‘13, PhD ‘18, BGC / American Museum of Natural History Postdoctoral Fellow in Museum Anthropolgy 2018–21) have received wonderful media coverage, but perhaps even more importantly, hearty praise from our visitors, who have told us that Staging the Table is “a fascinating look at hierarchy through kitchen materials” and Shaped by the Loom presents “an extraordinary collection and wonderful explanations.”

This issue of the newsletter also provides exciting updates from our faculty, students, fellows, and alumni, including the appointment of Darienne Turner (MA ’17) as the Brooklyn Museum’s first curator of Indigenous art and Yale University Press’s publication of William DeGregorio (PhD ’21)’s two-volume set about Percival D. Griffiths. Congratulations Dare and Billy! You can also learn about recent MA graduate Talia Perry’s research on Tudor chimneys and the prestigious award for excellence given to associate curator Emma Cormack (MA ’18) and professor emerita Michele Majer, editors of the Threads of Power exhibition catalogue, designed by art director Laura Grey.

Finally, I invite you to learn more about Lenore Tawney, the artist and philanthropist whose vision has led to a long and meaningful relationship with BGC, including the recent establishment of a scholarship to support students working in textiles research. I’m so grateful for the leadership of Kathleen Mangan, director of the Lenore Tawney Foundation, and I hope perhaps the Foundation’s generosity may inspire you to make a gift before the end of BGC’s fiscal year on June 30.

Enjoy the summer!

Susan Weber, Founder and Director