The Metropolitan Museum of Art David H. Koch Plaza © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art today announced that Trustee Merryl H. Tisch and her husband, James S. Tisch, have made a generous donation to staff a newly created curator position. In recognition of this gift, the position was named Merryl H. and James S. Tisch Curator at Large. Denise Murrell, who joined the Museum as Associate Curator of 19th and 20th Century Art in 2020, is the first incumbent.
“We are deeply grateful to Merryl H. and James S. Tisch for their generosity and support of the role of curator at Large, which will enable the Met to significantly advance a cross-departmental curatorial practice that works collaboratively across departments of curation to bring broader, more inclusive perspectives to our exhibitions, collections and programming,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of the Museum. “Denise brings great expertise and passion to her work.”
In this new role, Murrell will continue to research projects that align with the Met’s strategic direction to confront questions and issues that cross geographic and chronological boundaries and are of deep interest to Museum audiences. She is currently preparing a major exhibit on the Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism that will situate this African-American-led movement within the multinational context of early 20th century modernism. She also develops a series of installations based on the collection in European art galleries and initiates relevant acquisitions from the 19th century to the present day. His research at the Museum moves through the departments of European Paintings and Modern and Contemporary Art while also engaging with the collections of the American Wing, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts and the Department of Photographs.
The Tisches commented: “It is with immense enthusiasm that we staff this position as part of our continued support of the Met’s mission. We hope that this unique role will contribute to the great momentum of the Museum by providing significant scholarship and timely and impactful exhibition programming for many years to come.
“I am honored to take on this new title as I continue my work as a curator at the Met,” Murrell said. “The intersectional nature of the role aligns perfectly with my efforts to deepen the Museum’s broader presentation of art history and to bring out meaningful new connections across the collection.”
Denise Murrell, Ph.D.joined The Met in January 2020. She was previously curator of the exhibition Posing modernity: the black model of Manet and Matisse today (October 2018-February 2019) at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery while serving as a Wallach’s Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-19). She was co-curator of the extension of the exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, as The Black Model from Géricault to Matisse (March-July 2019) and a guest speaker for his final tour as The Black Model from Géricault to Picasso at the ACTe Memorial, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe (September-December 2019).
Murrell is the author of Laying down modernity exhibition catalog (Yale University Press and The Wallach Art Gallery, 2018), based on his 2014 doctoral thesis in art history at Columbia University in New York. The catalog received book awards from the College Art Association and the Dedalus Foundation. She was an essayist at the Orsay The Black Model catalog. Murrell has taught art history at Columbia University in New York and Paris and has lectured publicly and published as a guest essayist for numerous museums and universities.
Selected recent publications include “Suzanne Valadon’s Venus Noir: A Conversation” in Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel, The Barnes Foundation, 2021; “Bazille, Degas and modern black Paris” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Impressionism, edited by André Dombrowski, winter 2021/22; and “The Mirror of History: Black Artists as Anti-Racism Activists” in A Time of Crisis, Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of ArtNovember 2020.
Murrell is the first visiting scholar (2022-2024) at the Marder Center for Matisse Studies at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She held a Mellon Pre-Doctoral Curatorial Fellowship at the Princeton University Art Museum (2012-2013), where she developed collection installations in relation to the exhibition. The African Presence in Renaissance Europe and launched the online resource “The Art of Africa and its Diasporas”. She was a lecturer in a contract gallery and Art history timeline essayist at the Met from 2004 to 2011.
His professional and civic affiliations include the Obama Presidential Portrait Commission Committee at the Harvard Club of Greater New York; the National Advisory Board of the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Spelman College/Atlanta University Art History Degree Program External Advisory Committee; The Scientific Committee of the National Institute of Art History (INHA), Paris, Carte Blanche 2021: West Indian Art; and the Global Africa Advisory Committee, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
Murrell previously earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and had a long career in finance and consulting.