The National Gallery of Art has announced the appointment of Damon Reaves as head of education. In this role, Reaves will lead the museum’s large team of art education specialists who create, organize, and deploy hundreds of free public programs for adults, families, children, school teachers, interns, and scholars. Nearly two hundred volunteer docents, a variety of art education publications, and online learning portals will also be under Reaves’ direction. His experience and passion for building programs and relationships with communities will assist the museum in carrying forward its priority of public service to the nation and for all the people.
As part of the art education staff of the Philadelphia Museum of Art since 2011, Reaves has worked in several capacities across that division, most recently as the interim senior curator of education and public programs. He will join the National Gallery on June 7, 2021.
“We are thrilled for Damon to join the museum as he brings many strengths to our mission of welcoming and engaging our local community and the nation,” said Kate Haw, executive officer for collections, exhibitions, and programs at the National Gallery of Art. “In addition to his deep experience as an educator, Damon’s collaborative spirit, his commitment to values-based decision making, and his dedication to contributing to an institution-wide approach to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion will enhance the impact of our work not just in education, but across all that the National Gallery does.”
“It’s an honor to be joining the National Gallery of Art, particularly at this pivotal moment when museums across the country are recommitting themselves to being civic institutions,” Reaves added. “Throughout my career as an arts educator, amplifying community voices has been at the center of my practice. Deepening our collaboration with teachers, students, and individuals of all backgrounds enhances the museum’s goals to inspire a national audience and generate creative experiences for all. I’m excited to be part of this conversation at the National Gallery.”
Reaves’s professional practice ranges across the development and implementation of public programs, school and teacher programs, community engagement and access, interpretation, and volunteer services. He brings to the National Gallery of Art a breadth of experience as an educator in a variety of classroom and museum settings, a community advocate, a developer of large-scale collaborative projects, and a studio artist.
Since 2011 Reaves worked in roles of increasing responsibility at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), starting as a studio monitor and quickly taking on the role of coordinator of community programs. In 2015 Reaves was promoted to associate curator of education for community engagement and access, and in 2020 he was appointed interim senior curator of education and public programs, overseeing a large team in the development and implementation of public programs, school and teacher programs, community engagement and access, interpretation, and volunteer services. Among Reaves’ most important achievements at the PMA was his role on the leadership team for Philadelphia Assembled, a large-scale, multi-year project initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk. Engaging more than 160 community collaborators working on some 120 programs across the city, it culminated in an exhibition in the museum’s Perelman Building in 2018.
Prior to his work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Reaves was an instructor with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. He received his BFA from Miami University, Ohio, and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Reaves also has formal educator and leadership training from the City of Philadelphia Community Leadership Pipeline, the Frank Mohr Institute, and the Partnership Inc. Fellowship Program. Reaves lectures and publishes on issues of shared authority in museum settings, engagement and social equity in cultural institutions, and other topics.
(Source: National Gallery of Art Press Release)