With the September opening of the new galleries of Ancient American Art, a traveling exhibition of “Treasures from the Royal Tomb of Ur,” and the first public showing of the finest likeness of Nero in existence, Bonnie Speed has had no time to ease into her new job as director of the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

And Speed, who came to Emory in August, couldn’t be more pleased.

“I think that’s why I love it so much,” she says. “I tend to have a lot of energy and really can’t stand to be bored. I have to say, being a museum director hasn’t allowed any chance of that.”

Equally important to Speed is creating a sense of public access to museum collections. As director of the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas for the past two years, Speed was credited with strengthening that institution’s artistic vision, attracting new audiences, and forming community partnerships through such endeavors as a local music series and a quilting festival. Previously, as director of visual arts at the Mitchell Museum in Mount Vernon, Illinois, she established a ninety-acre sculpture park as a centerpiece for public events.

“Museums aren’t just places to collect and preserve art objects,” Speed says. “Having all these wonderful things is virtually irrelevant if they’re not shared.”

Speed plans to enhance the Carlos Museum’s already active outreach efforts, such as free evening and weekend lectures open to the community, musical concerts, hands-on workshops for children, Camp Carlos, and teacher education programs. She also hopes to work closely with the University’s art history department, using their expertise when preparing exhibitions.

“There are fantastic possibilities here,” Speed says. “That’s what is so unique about museums on college and university campuses. When all of these elements come together and the community is engaged as well–in those fleeting moments, nothing is as exciting.”

President William M. Chace praises Speed’s “abundant energy, considerable museum experience, poise, and focus, with a strong dose of humor and self-knowledge.”

The Carlos Museum recently opened new Ancient American Art galleries to showcase its collection of nearly two thousand pieces from Mesoamerica, Central America, and the northern and central Andes, including effigies, ritual artifacts, textiles, ceramics, and jewelry.

Other fall exhibits include: a showing of conceptual artist Mel Bochner’s monoprints and paintings, which Emory assistant professor of art history James Meyer calls an “examination of the faculties of seeing, reading, and cognition”; an over-sized gilt-bronze portrait of the notorious Roman emperor Nero, whose images are rare due to being destroyed or re-cut after his murder; and the traveling exhibition “Treasures from the Royal Tomb of Ur,” including more than two hundred finely crafted objects of gold, stone, and wood from a Mesopotamian burial site.

Speed, who received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts and arts education from the University of Southern Maine and her master’s degree in art history from the University of Kansas, specializes in twentieth-century American art and Asian art. She attended the Mandarin Training Center in Taiwan on scholarship in 1987 and 1988 and became fluent in Mandarin Chinese. (“It’s not as hard as it sounds,” she says modestly. “They don’t conjugate verbs.”)

To see society reflected in art, whether a foreign culture or one’s own, Speed says, is a powerful, transcendent experience. “There is a fascination with art, and there always will be,” she says. “It’s one of the modes of human expression that truly has no bounds or limits.”–M.J.L.

Former CDC director Koplan joins the Emory faculty >>>











































© 2002 Emory University