Cyra Levenson Appointed Director of Education and Academic Affairs
Versatile educator noted for collaborative initiatives and a fresh approach to interpretive strategies and programs
CLEVELAND (May 4, 2016) – The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), known nationally and internationally for the quality and scope of its collection and for innovation in its educational programs, has announced the appointment of Cyra Levenson as Director of Education and Academic Affairs. Levenson’s appointment follows an international search. She will assume her duties at the CMA in early August.
“Cyra is an extremely gifted and versatile educator and an outstanding administrator. She has broad experience in the museum education field, having worked at a range of museums, including both academic and civic institutions,” said Director William M. Griswold. “As Curator of Education and Academic Outreach at the Yale Center for British Art, Cyra articulated an inclusive vision for museum programs, serving K-12 and family audiences, while simultaneously developing community collaborations of the type that have become a major focus for us here in Cleveland. Cyra’s experience at Yale will also be of great benefit to the museum’s joint program in art history with Case Western Reserve University, and as we deepen our connections to other nearby institutions of higher education.”
A member of the CMA’s executive management team, Levenson will oversee the interpretation of the collection, ensuring that the museum’s programs foster active, meaningful engagement with works of art. She will also help to deepen the museum’s connection to the community. In addition, she will work closely with the museum’s Information Management and Technology Department, especially in respect to Gallery One, the museum’s renowned space that brings together art, technology, and interpretation, allowing visitors of all ages to learn more about the CMA’s permanent collection.
Working closely with the museum’s Chief Curator, Levenson will play a key role in the launch of The Keithley Institute for Art History, a new initiative that seeks to build upon the collaborative program undertaken by the museum and the university more than 40 years ago. This exciting effort will offer opportunities for object-based learning to students interested in museum careers or in pursuing object-oriented research, especially in areas well represented in the museum’s encyclopedic collection. The goal of the program is to fulfill a need frequently cited by museum professionals, and it will benefit a new generation of students with the creativity and skills required for excellence in museum practice.
“Works of art have the potential to transform ways of seeing and ways of thinking,” said Levenson. “Museums are a place where people come together to learn, to discuss, to be inspired. The CMA is an incredible resource for its communities and can participate in helping all of us learn to see the world more fully. I am very excited to become a part of that, and of the city of Cleveland.”
Levenson will oversee an education staff currently consisting of 17 full-time, and 11 part-time positions, along with a docent corps of 75 volunteers, and about 25 additional volunteers.
Cyra Levenson brings nearly two decades of museum and arts education experience to the CMA. Since 2006, she has served as Curator of Education and Academic Outreach at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, CT. There she developed innovative interpretive materials and programs based on the collections and special exhibitions, including campus-wide collaborations and managed school partnership initiatives, family programs, teacher training, and community collaborations. For example, Levenson was co-director of a team responsible for a campus-wide collaboration between Yale and the Smithsonian Institution focused on cultural heritage preservation, race and human diversity, material culture and object-based teaching and digital humanities and environmental studies. The program capitalized on the institutions’ intellectual and programmatic connections in order to engage broad and diverse audiences and address issues of global significance. Levenson previously worked as Museum Education and Gallery Resources Manager at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City; as Museum Education Coordinator, The Heritage School for the New York City Board of Education, where she supervised a museum education program at an arts-based public high school in East Harlem; and in various education positions at the Seattle Art Museum.
Levenson has taught extensively and has published numerous essays on museum and education, including “Creative Argument: The Power of Image and Word,” in Learning Disabilities, a Contemporary Journal; “Teaching towards creativity,” in Creativity in Art Education; and “The underserved questions in museum education,” in Studies in Art Education. Also, Levenson co-curated the recent exhibition Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in 18th Century Atlantic Britain and produced the 2014 documentary Visual Literacy: Rethinking the Role of Art in Education (https://vimeo.com/92872179).
Levenson holds a bachelor’s degree with high honors in visual arts, with a concentration in Asian Art History from Oberlin College and an EdM in Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Levenson will be moving to Cleveland with her husband, Christopher, an urban planner and community organizer, and their two children.
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