Welcome Dr. Chesterfield to Gainesville
Life is full of decisions according to new University of Florida Harn Museum of Art Director Lee Anne Chesterfield. A once in a lifetime opportunity is exactly how Dr. Chesterfield would describe her decision to accept the position of Harn Museum Director.
"I was familiar with the Harn and knew of the great thing's Dr. Nagy accomplished here as the museum's Director," Lee Anne said. "As Director for Museum Planning and Board Relations and Assistant Curator of Ancient American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts I decided it was time for me to make a decision about taking the very big step in becoming a Museum Director," She added.
Dr. Chesterfield, served as an adjunct professor, taught courses on art and architecture at the College of William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Christopher Newport University. The Doctor earned her Ph.D. in Art History, specializing in Pre-Columbian Art, from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from James Madison University.
She is a specialist in ancient South American art and architecture and her dissertation, entitled "The Huacas of Machu Picchu: Inca Stations for the Communion Between Humanity and Nature", argues that huacas, or sacred places, defined the relationship between nature and human ritual practice.
During her tenure at the VMFA, Chesterfield served as the principal advisor to director Alex Nyerges. Since joining the institution in 2004, Chesterfield has worked in a variety of roles, including as interim deputy director for art and education and as the museum's first curator of ancient American art. She directed the opening of the VMFA's first permanent galleries of Native American and pre-Columbian Art; managed the VMFA membership department and capital campaign fundraising efforts; and led the successful American Alliance of Museums' reaccreditation. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at the College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Christopher Newport University.
In 2006 she was appointed the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's first curator of Ancient American Art, and subsequently opened the Museum's first permanent galleries of Native American and Pre-Columbian Art.
"My career was a dream come true and I was giving serious consideration to becoming an educator," Lee Anne said. That is when opportunities opened up at the Virginia Museum expanding work opportunities and providing more responsibilities to several other administrative areas within the museum.
"I was seeing myself excited about being involved in the complete operation of the museum," Lee Anne said. "I loved my position at the VMFA,but I found it was time and I was ready to apply for a position like the Directorship of the Harn Museum," she added.
After five weeks in Gainesville, finding an apartment, getting her two children in school and navigating the deluge of first-time, newbie orientations Lee Anne feels like she is ready for a new life, in new city, steering the Harn Museum.
There are many similarities between Richmond and Gainesville according to Lee Anne. "Richmond might be a little bigger, however I think the lively arts footprint in Gainesville might be a little more pronounced. The UF's Cultural Plaza plays such a prominent role in Gainesville's cultural interests," Lee Anne said.
Dr. Chesterfield is excited about arriving and getting involved in the future planning of programs and exhibitions. "I'm analytical by nature Mike," Lynn Anne said. "The idea of working on five year exhibition plans with Harn department heads and staff really sounds exciting and fun to me."
Asked if she has any ideas she would like to share from her past museum experiences Lee Anne quickly mentioned extending the museum hours of availability.
"The Harn's Museum Nights taking place once a month is a great idea," Lee Anne said with enthusiasm. "Wouldn't it be great if the Harn could present new exhibitions, engaging, stimulating programs like that for folks regularly after they get off work in the evenings?"
I took the liberties of explaining downtown Gainesville, the multitude of restaurants, Union St. Downtown Farmers Market Wednesdays, The Hippodrome Theatre, Free Friday Bo Diddley Community Plaza family-friendly concerts and most importantly Big Lou's Pizza, and the Hyppo Pop popsicle shop to the N. Florida newbie..
I forgot to explain to Lee Anne the importance of learning the GREAT TO BE A FLORIDA GATOR CHEER GLOBers. But I did let her know there would be a graded Gainesville community civics test I will give her before the new year.
"That all sound so great GLOB Master. I am excited about becoming a serious, Gator loving Gainesvillian," Lee Anne said smiling, unsure if the civic test would be open book.