New Leadership Announced for Colby Museum Board

Announcements3 min. read

Hilary Barnes Hoopes will become the new chair, with Alice Kang and Richard Blanco as vice chairs

By Bob Keyes
January 25, 2022

The Board of Governors of the Colby College Museum of Art will have new leadership in 2022, with the appointment of Hilary Barnes Hoopes ’89, P’20, ’24 as chair and Alice J. Kang P’21 and Richard Blanco, Litt.D ’14 as vice chairs, effective July 1.

Hoopes, who served as vice chair of the museum’s 26-member governing board since 2015, will follow Karen Linde Packman ’88, P’21, who will step down after eight years as chair and remain on the board.

“The Colby College Museum of Art has grown and thrived since its founding because of outstanding leadership and the generosity of collectors and supporters of the arts,” said President David A. Greene. “Karen Linde Packman set a new bar for leadership during her tenure—a time marked by remarkable growth in the collection, staffing, and facilities as well as the challenges of a global pandemic. Like all truly great leaders, she built an unshakable foundation from which this new, enormously talented group will steward the museum. Hilary, Alice, and Richard will take us in exciting new directions, which we consider the ultimate way to honor the work of those who came before us and illuminated the path of innovation and progress.”

Greene and Jacqueline Terrassa, who became the Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art in October 2020, announced the new leadership during a recent Board of Governors meeting. Members of the Museum Board of Governors act as advocates for the museum and strategic advisors, providing critical support.

Packman thanked Greene, Terrassa, and her colleagues on the museum board and staff for their friendship, support, and collaboration during her tenure as board chair. “It has meant so much to be a part of Colby and part of the museum and to have worked with so many incredibly talented, passionate, and caring and brilliant staff, as well as board members,” she said.

The new leadership represents Colby’s continued commitment to access, to building inclusive communities, and to the power of the arts to transform people’s lives in lasting, tangible ways, Terrassa said. “Each is deeply committed not just to the museum, but to the value of art in learning and to the idea that art is foundational in individual and community life.”

Hoopes, a Colby parent and museum education professional, said she was honored by the faith expressed in her by the leadership of the museum and the College. “I have always valued my involvement with the Colby College Museum of Art as a gift—a gift that is the people, the art, the mission, the passion, and the potential. Having served as the vice chair since 2015, I am energized and inspired to support President Greene, Jackie Terrassa, and her team in advancing the goals and aspirations of the museum,” Hoopes said.

Hilary Barnes Hoopes ’89, P’20 has been appointed the next chair of the Colby College Museum of Arts Board of Governors. She will assume her new role July 1, 2022.

“I am especially excited to carry forward the lasting work of past chairs, to partner with vice chairs Alice Kang and Richard Blanco, to strive for centering art and racial justice in our collective work, and to amplify the value of the museum as a destination for American art.”

Hoopes has spent her career in museum education, currently as a consultant and executive associate in the museum education program at George Washington University and previously at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. 

Hoopes said the priorities for the board include continuing to fulfill the museum’s educational mission, encouraging experimental and risk-taking practices, and broadening the understanding of American art. She also hopes to “harness the impact” of the Lunder Institute for American Art and help shape Colby’s evolving arts ecosystem in downtown Waterville and on campus.

“As museums across our country address institutional structures that have hindered access and equity, the Colby College Museum of Art staff and board continue to make diversity, equity, access, and inclusion efforts a priority in our practices. In addition to this critical work, the museum continues to thrive in deepening and expanding its educational impact,” she said. “This is best exemplified by discovering cocurricular connections with the collection, enhancing career pathways for students, cultivating connections with audiences across Maine and beyond, and forging partnerships to advance the interpretation of American art,” she said.

Kang and Blanco bring varied life experiences and relationships to their leadership roles, as well as the experiences of artists.

Kang is the parent of three children, including a recent Colby graduate. She joined the board in 2019 and has co-led the Ad Hoc Committee on Equity and Racial Justice since fall 2020. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, she is also an artist and freelance designer.

A poet born to Cuban exiles, Blanco received an honorary degree from Colby in 2014, was the first artist in residence at the Lunder Institute in 2018, and delivered the commencement address in 2021. He wrote and delivered the inaugural poem “One Today” for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.

Both said they would use their roles as co-vice chairs to expand the reach and influence of the museum, while tackling important internal tasks, including writing the museum’s next strategic plan.

“Experiencing the challenges all around us in the past two years and the herculean efforts of adaptation and resourcefulness that were enacted not just in the museum but throughout Colby College, I feel our board of governors is well-prepared for forward movement in the museum’s scholarship and community engagement,” Kang said.

Said Blanco, “I’ve developed quite a love for and incredible affinity with the values that Colby College and the museum and its leadership uphold. As a child from a working-class immigrant family, I barely had any exposure to the arts. As such, I am particularly drawn to the museum’s commitment to the public humanities and the programming it has developed to increase access to the arts and build community around it.”

Blanco is among four new board members welcomed in FY23. In addition to the new leadership, the board also welcomed Susannah Gray, a biopharmaceutical professional and advocate of education, access, and women’s leadership; Mary K. Bush, who brings decades of experience in international finance, corporate banking, and corporate governance; and photographer and educator Séan Alonzo Harris, whose portraits and projects are defined by fine-art sensibilities, a sense of a place and community, and the photographic traditions of Roy DeCarava and Irving Penn.

In its role as one of the most respected college museums in the country, the Colby Museum has expanded the depth and diversity of its collections and exhibitions. This includes the purchase of contemporary Wabanaki art and Wíwənikan…the beauty we carry, a landmark exhibition of contemporary artworks from the First Nations people of what is now Maine and Maritime Canada, as well as the just-closed Bob Thompson: This House is Mine, the first museum exhibition in 20 years about the visionary African-American painter, an exhibition anchored by recent art gifts to Colby from the Alex Katz Foundation.

In February the museum will open two photography exhibitions, The Poetics of Atmosphere: Lorna Simpson’s Cloudscape and Other Works from the Collection, and Act of Sight: The Tsiaras Family Photography Collection, based on the recent gift by Dr. William ’68 and Nancy Meyer Tsiaras ’68 of one of the foremost collections of American photography in private hands.

In June it opens Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death, the first exhibition of recently discovered drawings by the artist in which he imagines his death.

The activity at the museum comes during a time of expansion and investment in the arts at Colby and in Waterville, with the opening of the Greene Block + Studios downtown in 2021, the planned opening of the Paul J. Schupf Art Center later this year, also downtown, and the opening of the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts on campus, on track for a 2023 opening.

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