Richard B. Woodward (RC‘72, Art History), will focus on his career as the founding curator building one of the country’s leading collections of the arts of Africa. Consisting of more than 1,200 works, it is noted for its broad geographic, chronological, and material scope, including the length and breadth of the continent from antiquity to today. He highlights the museum’s conscious decision to start the collection in 1977, as well as his approach to shaping the collection and the allied process of engaging the community.
The collection recently became the subject of an intensive, multi-year study supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Mr. Woodward will present some of the remarkable findings of the intensive technical studies made with a team engaging the museum’s conservation staff and more than one hundred scientific and art historical specialists worldwide.
Woodward was the founding curator of the African art collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and starting in 1977 he guided its development to include more than twelve hundred works of art. After receiving a BA in Art History from Rutgers University and an MA in Art History from the University of Virginia, he began working at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 1975. For more than thirty years he held senior administrative positions in the museum, serving as Interim Director in 2000 and from then until 2010 as Senior Deputy Director for Architecture and Design, during which time he coordinated planning and construction of the $150 million expansion that substantially increased VMFA’s gallery space for collections and exhibitions.