Marianne Eileen Wardle began her appointment as the new director and curator of The College of Wooster Art Museum (CWAM) on Jan. 11. Drawing on her previous experience working at university art museums, Wardle hopes to develop the CWAM as a collaborative environment for people to connect over art.
Wardle holds a Ph.D. in art history from Duke University, a master’s in art history from Brigham Young University, and a bachelor’s in art history and French from Utah State University. In her previous position leading academic outreach efforts at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Wardle enjoyed connecting with others through art. “I loved working closely with students and faculty to explore the museum’s collections and exhibitions,” she said. Since her most recent position as director of the University of Wyoming Art Museum was largely administrative, Wardle is excited to return to the type of tight-knit, collaborative environment that Wooster offers. “I’ve really missed having the close connection with people and artwork and exploring together,” she said. “I’m looking forward to a role that allows me to do that again.”
Wardle envisions the CWAM not only as a space for learning, but also for relaxation and contemplation. “I think it’s important for the museum to be part of the intellectual and learning life of the college, but I also hope that it can be a place of respite or rejuvenation when someone just needs a place to come and sit and be,” she said.
In her first months as director and curator of the museum, Wardle plans to connect with students and faculty to find out what they want from the CWAM. “My immediate goals include meeting people and finding out what they are working on and interested in and how the museum might be able to serve as a resource or place to collaborate or experiment,” she said. “I’d like to work with a student advisory group to better understand how students might better use or connect with the museum, both for learning, work, and fun, and how students get and share information.”
While Wardle is starting her new position in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, she is committed to finding creative ways to carry out the mission of CWAM safely amid the ongoing pandemic. “Our COVID reality is challenging, but I’d like to think of ways for the college community to connect and share experiences with art through 2021, even if the usual kind of visits are more restricted for a while,” she said.