Curatorial

Claire C. Whitner

Director of Curatorial Affairs and the James A. Welu Curator of European Art

Claire Whitner brings together WAM’s curators and conservators to collaborate on new exhibitions and installations that address a central element of the Museum’s mission: connecting visitors, communities, and cultures through experiences with art. Whitner takes a leading role in shaping the Museum’s collecting efforts, working with the Director and curators to identify and secure gifts and purchases that address specific collection needs. She also oversees the Museum’s ongoing work to reexamine installations in permanent collections galleries. She has expertise in German modernism and 17th-century Dutch painting and holds a PhD in Germanic languages from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to coming to the Worcester Art Museum, she served as Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. She has also held curatorial and research positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Skirball Cultural Center, and the Getty Research Institute at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Nancy Kathryn Burns

Stoddard Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs

Nancy Kathryn Burns oversees the Worcester Art Museum’s collection of pan-Atlantic prints, drawings, and photographs. She has served as the curator or co-curator for 18 exhibitions including Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period (2016), Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman (2019), and Us Them We | Race Ethnicity Identity (2022). Burns has received various accolades for her work including a first-place Award for Excellence for an Outstanding Exhibition from the Association of Art Museum Curators (2017). She is also the co-author of Rediscovering an American Community of Color: The Photographs of William Bullard, 1897-1917, winner of the 2018 Historic New England Book Prize.

Samantha Cataldo

Associate Curator of Contemporary Art

Samantha Cataldo stewards the presentation and interpretation of post-war and contemporary art at WAM and develops the Museum’s collection of global contemporary art. She plays a leading role in the development of new exhibitions and long-term installations, as well as directing the Museum’s Southeast Asia Artists-in-Residency. Through her work on collections, exhibitions, and programming, Cataldo helps further the Museum’s commitment to enhancing the visibility of underrepresented communities of artists. Prior to joining the Worcester Art Museum in 2022, Cataldo served as Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Yagnaseni Datta

Sohail and Mona Masood Assistant Curator of Asian and Islamic Art

Yagnaseni Datta oversees the museum’s collection of Asian and Islamic art, working on exhibitions, curating the permanent collection, and finding opportunities to expand the collection in these areas. This includes revitalizing the Museum’s Asian art galleries and giving a fresh look to their presentation and interpretation. Before joining the Worcester Art Museum, Datta served as the Graduate Curatorial Intern of Asian Art at the Yale University Art Gallery for four years. At YUAG, she curated six themed installations, including “Practice as Power in the Paintings of South Asia” (2021-2022) and “Ragamala Paintings from Northern India” (2019-2020). She has also held curatorial positions at the Jewish Museum in New York and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Yagnaseni is completing her Ph.D. in the History of Art at Yale University, focusing on early-modern Islamic and South Asian art.

Jeffrey L. Forgeng

The Higgins Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art

Jeffrey Forgeng has curated the John Woodman Higgins Collection since 1999, first as the Paul S. Morgan Curator at the Higgins Armory Museum and, since 2014, as The Higgins Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art at the Worcester Art Museum. His responsibilities at WAM entail integrating the Higgins collection of some 2,000 arms and armor objects throughout the Museum. This includes the reinstallation of the Medieval Galleries (2016), the addition of numerous armors in contextually related galleries (2017), and planning the permanent arms and armor gallery (estimated opening 2023). Forgeng is the author of over a dozen books, most recently The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33. Forgeng holds a PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto.

Olivia Stone

Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photography

Olivia J. Stone joined the Worcester Art Museum as Curatorial Assistant in 2018, and became Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photography in 2023. She received her MA in the History of Art and Architecture from Boston University in 2015, and holds a BA in French and Studio Art from the University of Virginia. Her research interests include late 19th- and early 20th-century French arts and culture, from the giants of Impressionism, to obscure modernist illustrations and advertisements. Formerly the Assistant Editor at Art New England magazine, Olivia’s writing on art has also appeared in Big, Red & Shiny, the Boston Art Review, The Rib, and others. She regularly contributes catalogue essays to the Art Center Gallery at Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA.

Conservation

Matthew Cushman 

Conservator in Charge

Matthew Cushman leads the Museum’s team of conservators to care for the permanent collection and carry out projects to preserve, restore, and research works within the collection. With over 20 years of conservation experience, he came to the Worcester Art Museum from the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Delaware, where he served as Conservator of Paintings for eight years. During this tenure, he simultaneously served as an Affiliated Assistant Professor at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation and as an international consultant and instructor on conservation cleaning techniques. Intimately familiar with the Museum’s collection, he worked previously at the Worcester Art Museum as both a graduate intern and Andrew W. Mellon Fellow. He received his M.S. in Art Conservation from the Winterthur program in 2007.

Paula Artal-Isbrand

Objects Conservator

Paula Artal-Isbrand joined the Worcester Art Museum in 1996 and was appointed the Museum’s first Objects Conservator in 2003. Responsible for WAM’s vast collection of sculpture, decorative arts, and antiquities, Artal-Isbrand’s expertise includes ceramics, glass, stone and metal. During her 25-year tenure she has overseen and undertaken research and treatment of much of WAM’s 3-D collections that had never before received professional conservation attention. This includes the Mediterranean antiquities, the Paul Revere silver holdings, ceramics from Asia, and the Medieval Chapter House. Artal-Isbrand curated the exhibition Orantes: Ancient Statues from South Italy (2013), and co-curated Master Vases from Ancient Greece (2017-2019). Prior to WAM she was at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She received her M.A. in Art Conservation from the Art Conservation Program at SUNY, Buffalo in 1994.

William MacMillan

Project Conservator of Arms & Armor

William MacMillan began working at WAM in 2014. He is responsible for the conservation of the Higgins Collection of Arms & Armor. He is also involved in the planning and design of the permanent Arms & Armor Gallery, as well as the “Age of Armor” touring exhibition (fall 2021). William came to WAM after 25 years as the conservator at the Higgins Armory Museum, where he was responsible for the care and treatment of the collection. He was also responsible for the design and installation of the permanent, temporary, and touring exhibitions.