Endowed curatorship will elevate education at Weatherspoon

Walking into the Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro, one is likely to find students in and out of the galleries, enjoying the art, completing class assignments, and meeting up for coffee breaks. Their constant presence is a reminder that the museum, with its over 17,000 square feet of gallery and exhibition space, is also the largest classroom on campus.

Now, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Weatherspoon’s capacity to use art for teaching and learning is expanding. Managing this vision for the museum’s educational mission will be the newly endowed Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon Curator of Academic Programming and Head of Exhibitions, Dr. Emily Stamey. The position is named for the legendary university Department of Art professor Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon, for whom the museum is also named.

“Not only does this gift enhance and expand educational programming at the museum, but it also celebrates ‘Lizzie’ McIver Weatherspoon’s love of art, which ultimately led to the creation of a department of art at the State Normal, the forerunner of today’s UNCG,” said UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “This commitment helps ensure that the Weatherspoon continues to be a ground-breaking educational resource for our students and our region.”

Juliette Bianco, the museum’s Anne and Ben Cone Memorial Endowed Director, added,  “This gift speaks to the essence of learning with art – namely, connecting us with things that matter in the world, with perspectives and experiences other than our own, and ultimately with each other. We are grateful for this visionary investment in supporting a thriving relationship between our communities and the museum’s exceptional staff and art collection.”

While the role is new, the inaugural holder of the position has been part of the Weatherspoon for years. Dr. Emily Stamey (seen in photo) joined the museum in 2015, and since arriving has long curated shows that combine academic inquiry with popular appeal, including “Dread & Delight: Fairy Tales in an Anxious World,” “To the Hoop: Basketball and Contemporary Art,” and most recently “Gilded: Contemporary Artists Explore Value & Worth.” Stamey has also worked to knit the Weatherspoon’s exhibitions into campus teaching and to share the work of UNCG faculty and students with the Greensboro community. In recognition of this, she received one of the first Residential College Appreciation Awards for university faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to the student learning and community. Dr. Stamey previously held curatorial positions at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, and the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. She holds a PhD and an MA in art history from the University of Kansas and a BA from Grinnell College.

The position’s namesake, Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon, was passionate about arts education. The younger sister of the campus’s founding president, Charles Duncan McIver, she enrolled in 1892, the very year it opened. In 1906, she joined the faculty as an instructor of art education for elementary school teachers. A strong advocate for the establishment of a Department of Art, she saw that dream come true in 1935, and she was named associate professor within it. The Weatherspoon Art Gallery, now the Weatherspoon Art Museum, was named in her memory upon its establishment in 1941.

The Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon Curator of Academic Programming and Head of Exhibitions will not only develop the museum’s academic engagement – including all object-based teaching, university-based research, and public programming at the Weatherspoon – but will curate exhibitions and serve as the principal liaison between the museum and the faculty for creating scholarly and teaching initiatives and programs. 

The Weatherspoon’s academic mission will be further supported by another newly envisioned role – the Associate Curator of Academic Programming. A national search for the new Associate Curator will begin in June.

Learn more about the Weatherspoon Art Museum.

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