Posted on February 11, 2021 at 3:00 PM by Betsy Grabinski
Sharon Matt Atkins ('96, Art & Design, ISU) began her career in museums in 1992 as a work-study student at University Museums. During a nearly three-decade profession, with positions at several museums on the East Coast, she was recently promoted to Deputy Director for Art at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY. She oversees the Art Division, which includes Curatorial, Exhibitions, Registrars and Art Handling, Conservation, Exhibition Design, Publications, Interpretation, and Editorial Services. She joined the Brooklyn Museum staff in 2009.
Atkins's work-study job at University Museums sparked her interest in pursuing a museum career. "It has been nearly 29 years since I got that job my first day of classes my freshman year. I knew by the end of my first semester that I would work in museums for the rest of my life," she said. "Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today without the experience I gained under Lynette Pohlman's guidance. She also helped me to develop a museum studies emphasis in my academic work, which set me up for success in graduate school and within the field."
During her tenure at University Museums, Atkins worked on the exhibition Land of the Fragile Giants: Landscapes, Environments, and Peoples of the Loess Hills which is being honored in the current exhibition Compelling Ground: Landscapes, Environments, and Peoples of Iowa, now open at the Brunnier Art Museum.
"The Land of the Fragile Giants exhibition offered such an incredible opportunity. Lynette was in the beginning stages of planning the exhibition in 1992 when I started at the museum, and then it opened in 1995 during my senior year. I was able to support all aspects of the planning and implementation for a large-scale exhibition and publication, which is quite unique for a budding museum professional. It became a very special project as I was able to accompany Lynette on many of the studio visits to artists included in the exhibition," Atkins said.
Atkins received an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, where she also taught art history and writing courses. Before her move to Brooklyn, Atkins was the Assistant Curator at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire. She also held positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University.
University Museums wishes Sharon the best of luck in her new position!
Photo by Elena Olivo.