Jessica Levin Martinez. Photo: John Deputy.

Jessica Martinez to Lead Cornell’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has announced that Jessica Levin Martinez, the head of the Division of Academic and Public Programs at the Harvard Art Museums in Massachusetts, has been named director of its Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Martinez succeeds Stephanie Wiles, who joined the Yale University Art Gallery as director, and will take up the post on July 15.

“Among an extremely talented pool of candidates, she impressed the search committee with her commitment and approach to museum-based interdisciplinary teaching, her willingness to take creative risks, and her managerial experience,” provost Michael I. Kotlikoff said in a statement. “She has a genuine enthusiasm for the academic museum and supporting the creative work of others, and we look forward to her leadership in building and further enhancing the impact the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art has on the campus and in the community.”

Martinez earned her doctorate in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University in 2004. She served as an educator and administrator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art for four years and then returned to Harvard in 2012. During her tenure there, Martinez helped establish the Art Study Center to make items from the collections more accessible, led programs training Harvard students to lead public tours and teach in secondary schools, and taught postgraduate students about museum practices. In 2016, she became Harvard’s research curator of African art. She has also lectured on African art at various institutions, including the University of Chicago.

Commenting on her new role, Martinez said: “I want the museum to be a site for research and development, a place where people can test ideas. Nearly four hundred classes are already visiting the Johnson Museum each academic year, and that constant flow of opportunity with new students, fresh eyes, and bold questions is exciting to me.”