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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Appoints Austen Barron Bailly as Chief Curator

Austen Barron Bailly.

KATHY TARANTOLA/COURTESY PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM

Austen Barron Bailly, who currently serves as curator of American art at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, has been named chief curator at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. She will take up the post on July 15.

In her new role, Bailly will lead the curatorial and collections management teams at Crystal Bridges. She will also oversee collection growth and preservation, and produce exhibition programs.

Bailly began her tenure at the Peabody Essex Museum in 2013 following 11 years at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s American art department. Some of her curatorial credits include “American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood” (2015), “American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals” (2016), and “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle” (2020).

She is a co-executive editor of the peer-reviewed journal Panorama, and has served as chair of the Association of Historians of American Art and as a member of the Public Art Commission for the City of Salem.

Bailly said of her appointment, “It is such a thrilling opportunity to work with such a talented team to activate this American art collection, create new scholarship, and develop engaging exhibitions.”

Rod Bigelow, the executive director of Crystal Bridges, said in a statement, “I’m thrilled to welcome Austen to Crystal Bridges and Northwest Arkansas. Her ability to lead teams and collaborate with peers combined with her deep understanding of and passion for American art will invigorate the museum’s curatorial approach to provide inspiring art opportunities for visitors.”

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