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Art Institute of Chicago Names Melinda Watt Chair and Curator of Textiles

The Art Institute of Chicago announced today that Melinda Watt has been appointed the new chair and Christa C. Mayer Thurman Curator of Textiles. She will oversee the institution’s collection of more than 13,000 textiles and 66,000 sample swatches ranging from 300 BCE to the present.

“Melinda has an outstanding reputation as a talented curator, an expert researcher and respected scholar, and brilliant administrator and leader,” the Art Institute of Chicago's president and director, James Rondeau, said in a statement. “I am thrilled for our museum and our visitors that she is joining us in this crucial position and will re-energize our ambitious efforts to grow and elevate the reputation of our renowned textiles department and present innovative and dynamic exhibitions.”

Watt most recently served as curator in the department of European decorative arts and sculpture from 2016 to 2018, and as supervising curator for the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2009 to 2018. She began her tenure at the Met in 1994, as a study storage assistant in its Costume Institute.

Commenting on her new role, Watt said, “From the earliest days of my career, I have admired the supreme quality and breadth of the textile collection at the Art Institute, so it comes as a great honor to be asked to lead the department of textiles.”