The Toledo Museum of Art has named associate curator of contemporary art Halona Norton-Westbrook to the newly created position of director of collections. In this role Norton-Westbrook is responsible for overseeing the Museum’s curatorial staff, exhibitions and art conservation.
A native of California, Norton-Westbrook became a Mellon Fellow at TMA in 2013. The fellowship program, underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, enables participants to gain first-hand experience in institutional management and affords them the opportunity to take a leading role in curatorial endeavors.
“We considered Halona’s experience and research background as uniquely preparing her for a successful career in the art museum world when we chose her for a Mellon Fellowship. She has proven us right through her leadership of innovative curatorial projects and programming. We are delighted that she has accepted our offer to become director of collections,” said Toledo Museum of Art Director Brian Kennedy.
Norton-Westbrook became associate curator of contemporary art and head of visitor engagement at TMA in 2015. As such she oversaw exhibitions and hundreds of art activities, among them a new monthly program created in partnership with Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts. Called EAR | EYE: Listening and Looking at Contemporary Art, the performance and discussion series explores the relationship between contemporary music and art through music performances in response to specific works of art in the Museum’s collection.
Norton-Westbrook also co-curated last summer’s popular Play Time exhibition that included the Red Ball Project and served as point curator for two touring American Federation of Arts exhibitions, Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection and The Rise of Sneaker Culture, earlier this year.
She was also the leading force behind the creation of the popular “Speaking Visually” galleries, which utilize masterworks from across the collection to illustrate the Museum’s visual literacy initiative.
Norton-Westbrook first became interested in museum management while an American history and studio art major at Mills College in Oakland, California. After completing her bachelor’s degree in 2005 and spending a year as a curatorial and administrative coordinator at the Mills College Art Museum, she moved abroad to pursue a master’s degree in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
Following an advanced museum management traineeship at London’s Garden Museum in 2011, she earned a doctorate at the University of Manchester. Her doctoral research centered on the history of collecting in American and British art museums and the evolution of the curatorial profession.