Fortrove News

Kristen A. Shepherd has been the executive director of the Museum of Fine Arts in St.Petersburg, Florida. She had arranged a Schlumberger jewelry exhibition as well as many others. In an interview with Catalyst, she discusses her time with the MFA.

When asked which of her exhibits were her favorite, Shepherd said, "My favorite examples of exhibitions are those where we have the chance to broaden our audience’s view of what we can do at the museum. I loved our Schlumberger jewelry exhibition, which had the most gorgeous exhibition design. And of course The Grasshopper and the Ant and other stories as told by Jennifer Angus – the show everyone calls “the insect show” – which I co-curated with the talented Erin Wilson. I also loved Art of the Stage: Picasso to Hockney. I brought the show to St. Petersburg from the McNay Art Museum because it gave us an opportunity to collaborate with The Florida Orchestra as well as other regional and national performing arts organizations, and to activate the museum with performance.

"We have worked hard to build a more inclusive program, which is just one way we are demonstrating our commitment to DEAI [diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion]. There was an exhibition every single year of my tenure that highlighted BIPOC and women artists, and I am grateful to our outstanding curators especially Dr. Stanton Thomas, Katherine Pill, and Erin Wilson for their leadership and superlative work in making that possible. I am also grateful to the Collectors Circle and Jim Sweeny for making the purchase of the MFA’s magnificent Kehinde Wiley painting 'Leviathan Zodiac' possible. That is certainly a highlight of my time at the MFA."

"We definitely shook the dust off and changed the museum, making it more relevant, professional and inclusive," said Shepherd when asked if she accomplished all she set out to do when she arrived in 2016. "We did it by building a strong team and refocusing every aspect of our work to promote the MFA as a welcoming, exciting place to be. We demonstrated the changes in many ways – from updating our graphic identity to the gorgeous gallery renovations in 2020, which completely changed the way our audience experiences the collection.

All Photo Sources

"The MFA is not the same museum it was six years ago because slowly, over time, we created an almost entirely new team and welcomed professionals in every facet of the museum’s operations. Over the course of several years, the Board supported me in hiring first rate museum professionals for newly created positions as well as vacancies when staff members moved on to other opportunities or left the museum field entirely. I consider having built a forward-looking new team with great energy one of the most significant contributions I could make to ensure the museum’s future success. Our growing national profile tells us we are on the right path forward."

Information originally sourced from Catalyst.