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RMAC seeks new curator

With a photo of a Henriette Wyeth painting framing her, Sara Woodbury on Wednesday gave her last lecture in the Basset Auditorium for the Brown Bag Lecture and Lunch. The lecture focused on the Magical & Real show at the museum. Woodbury has worked at the Roswell Museum and Art Center for the last five years and will be leaving after July 27. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Sara Woodbury, the current curator at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, will be leaving for Virginia to work on her doctorate degree in American Studies at the College of William and Mary.

At the Monday RMAC meeting, Caroline Brooks said the museum has received more than 60 applications and is reviewing them. This past Wednesday was Woodbury’s last lecture, where museum staff and attendees wished Woodbury luck on her new masterpiece. Her last day will be next Friday.

Woodbury has a master’s degree in art history and moved to Roswell from Shelburne, Vermont five years ago. Woodbury was a curatorial fellow at Shelburne Museum and has internships at the Dallas Museum of Art National Museum of Wildlife Art in Wyoming.

Saying she applied last fall, Woodbury said this decision has been in the making since 2014 — but she wanted to see the Magical & Real show come to fruition, and ensure the museum was in a good place before she left. She said she hopes to see more growth in Roswell’s art scene after she leaves.

“This is a great museum,” she said. “It’s a great collection. It’s comparable to anything you’ll find in Santa Fe or Albuquerque and this community should be very proud of the resources it has.”

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Though she recognizes the high level of activity, Woodbury said she would like to see more collaboration in order to pool Roswell’s resources and strengthen the art scene.

“Roswell has a very active art scene that surprises a lot of people — myself included,” she said. “You’ve got the symphony. You have three theater companies in town. You’ve got all of these different museums — the Roswell Museum, the Anderson Museum, not to mention all of the artists who are active here.”

“I’d like to see Roswell be less shy about its art scene,” Woodbury said. “When you hear about Roswell, what you envision is the ufology stuff, which is fine, it brings in a lot of tourists. But I always feel like Roswell has been hiding its artistic scene under the bushel a little bit when it should really let it shine because it is one of the very strong assets of this town.”

On the city itself, Woodbury said she would miss the camaraderie from local friends and acquaintances that she would often run into around town as she transitions to a new place. The collection is something she said she would also miss because it “has been her life for the last five years.” She added that is an appropriate time for a change in her life.

Woodbury said the Magical & Real show was a fun and stressful four-year project. She said she received good assurance that she is ready to work on her dissertation after accomplishing such a huge project with her curatorial team. She said it was exciting to bring such a large-scale exhibition with a wide scope, especially since it featured one of the museum’s prominent collections.

“What I hope visitors get out of it, beyond the beauty of the works themselves, is to see your museum deserves exhibitions like this,” she said. “We are of that caliber.”

To advise the next curator, Woodbury said that person should keep an open mind about the collection and the action they take as curator. In her time here, Woodbury said she did nearly equal amounts of writing and manual labor and encourages the next curator to be flexible to participate in various facets of the job.

She said this mindset would reward them richly.

Editor’s note: A column from Woodbury appears on page A4 of today’s Daily Record.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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