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The Addison Gallery of American Art

A new curator of education brings a wealth of experience to the acclaimed Addison Gallery of American Art. By Andrew Conway – Photographs by Bob O’Connor

Head of School John Palfrey isn’t the only new kid on the block at Phillips Academy. The school’s renowned Addison Gallery has appointed Rebecca L. Hayes as its new curator of education, working with students at the Academy and thousands of others in regional schools to develop visual and critical thinking skills through art.

With 17 years’ experience at major institutions, including the Peabody Essex Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Hayes will head up the gallery’s education department, bringing a fresh eye to the 17,000 objects in the permanent collection and  ever-changing exhibitions of American art.

“She’s a wonderful teacher, deeply knowledgeable about the collection, and speaks about art with conviction and passion,” says Addison Director Brian T. Allen. “This is the only high school in the country that has a great museum of this scope and quality and we are delighted to have Rebecca on the team.”

While every Phillips Academy student visits at least once a year, the Addison Gallery also serves more than 6,000 public school students from local towns, and offers free admission to the public on a daily basis.

Allen believes the Addison’s extraordinary collection of art by the likes of Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singleton Copley and James Abbott McNeill Whistler plays a crucial role in teaching students how to learn through looking.

“The culture we have now is very visual and the Addison teaches students of all ages how to learn through looking at great art,” he says. “To have this gallery on a relatively small campus, easily accessible and free to all is a great gift. It’s a wonderful resource.” Current exhibition (through January 13): People, Places, Things: Symbols of American Culture.