Jon Seydl, an art historian specializing in Italian Renaissance art, has been named the new director of Krannert Art Museum.
Jon Seydl is currently the senior director of collections and programs and curator of European art at Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. His appointment at Krannert Art Museum will be effective in February, pending approval of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
“I've known about KAM's work for a long time, and I'm very proud to join such a great institution,” Seydl said. “KAM's commitment to research, its outstanding curators and nationally recognized exhibition program, the museum’s wonderful team and fine collection are what drew me to this role. As a European specialist, I have long admired its works of international importance – paintings by Murillo and Lancret, for example, and its African collections are particularly renowned.”
“As a curator, Jon Seydl brings a deep knowledge about artwork that forms a large portion of the collection. That knowledge, and his excitement about curation, education, collection management and public engagement will make him an excellent director,” said Julia Nucci Kelly, the museum’s communications and marketing coordinator.
Seydl began work in 2014 at the Worcester Art Museum, where he was the lead curator for several exhibitions. He was responsible for the acquisition of Otto Dix’s “Pregnant Woman” and Miguel Cabrera’s “The Virgin of Guadalupe.”
Seydl coordinated a revamped exhibition program at Worcester Art Museum; launched an initiative to present the museum’s entire collection online, adding more than 25,000 records in two years; and developed a systematic approach to curatorial collecting. He also served as liaison for academic programs to 12 colleges and universities.
“Seydl expressed an eagerness to continue developing a range of exhibition and educational programs that forge connections between the campus, the museum, and its diverse publics. He sees that the museum has a key civic role to play as a bridge between the university and the community at large,” said Allyson Purpura, the senior curator and curator of Global African Art at Krannert Art Museum.
Prior to joining Worcester Art Museum, Seydl served as the curator of European painting and sculpture at the Cleveland Museum of Art from 2007-2013. He was lead curator of “The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection,” for which he was awarded the Outstanding Catalogue Essay Prize in 2013 from the Association of Art Museum Curators.
Seydl held positions as associate curator and assistant curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. His experience also includes work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was also a 2014 fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.
Seydl earned his Ph.D. in art history in 2003 from the University of Pennsylvania, with Italian art from 1585-1815 as his field of study. He holds a master’s degree in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Yale University.
He has taught at Case Western Reserve University, the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania.
Seydl will be the ninth director of the museum. He succeeds Kathleen Harleman, who was the museum’s director from 2004 to 2017, as well as acting dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts from September 2015 until her retirement in August 2017.
Especially committed to issues of equity and inclusion, Harleman promoted the acquisition of works from underrepresented groups, including women artists and artists of color. Among her many achievements, Harleman led the museum on a redesign of its African Gallery, an award-winning installation that informed the aesthetic signature for subsequent gallery renovations. She also oversaw multi-year initiatives to develop educational outreach to area public schools, provide online access to the art collection, and create interdisciplinary collaborations across campus.