Daphne Anderson Deeds has been an art museum professional for more than twenty-five years. She has held progressively responsible positions at university and civic art museums in California, Illinois, Arizona, Nebraska and Connecticut. She has curated more than seventy exhibitions and published more than fifty catalogues and articles. Ms. Deeds’ museum experience entails extensive knowledge of administrative and curatorial practices, as well as working closely with board members, registrars, preparators, educators, faculty, development officers, conservators, designers, publishers and artists. While primarily a scholar of American modernism, Ms. Deeds has also organized numerous exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as nineteenth century and colonial art in diverse media. Ms. Deeds has lectured extensively throughout the U.S. and she has organized a variety of academic symposia. She has given innovative form to internal museum procedures and developed new audiences for many inventive museum programs. Her comprehensive knowledge of museum practices has distilled her leadership philosophy that emphasizes mission-driven policies, collection-based standards, long-range planning, collaboration, and interdisciplinary thinking.
While living in Tucson, Arizona Ms. Deeds was a Field Researcher in Arizona and southern California for the National Portrait Gallery’s “Catalogue of American Portraits”. Subsequently she was the Chief Researcher and Assistant Editor at the University of Arizona where she conducted original research and wrote the University Museum of Art’s first catalog of the permanent collection. At the Phoenix Art Museum she was Guest Curator of the exhibition William Penhallow Henderson: Master Colorist of Santa Fe, and at the Tucson Art Museum she was Guest Curator for Arizona Collects, an exhibition drawn from private collections of contemporary art in Arizona.
As Assistant Director and Chief Curator of the Sheldon Art Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ms. Deeds oversaw the collection of 30,000 works of American art in all media, developed the artistic program, curated approximately ten exhibitions annually, wrote grant applications, supervised the education, registrarial and preparation staff, organized symposia and lectures, was liaison to the Board of Trustees, initiated the Collectors’ Forum, and was Acting Director during the director’s absence. Her exhibition of the Sheldon’s exceptional collection of early modernism, Of Time and the City, was circulated by the American Federation of Arts to eight national venues, and the accompanying catalog won the Merit Award from the American Association of Museums. She was a founding member of the University’s Museum Studies Program faculty where she team-taught courses with peer history and natural history museum curators. Ms. Deeds procured the Stuart Embury Library of American Art for the Sheldon, a 10,000 volume collection of rare, out-of-print and first edition books by and about American artists and art. She also administered and curated Sheldon Statewide, an innovative annual touring exhibition that traveled to rural communities. In 2001 Sheldon Statewide won the Governor’s Art Award. During her tenure at the Sheldon Gallery, Ms. Deeds was awarded a National Museum of American Art Smithsonian Fellowship.
In 1996, Ms. Deeds assumed the position of Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the Yale University Art Gallery, an administrative role with oversight of long-range exhibition planning, education programs and publications. There she established the Implementation Committee, a museum-wide standing committee that encouraged staff involvement in exhibition planning. She administered the Teaching Exhibitions Program that provides Yale faculty with the opportunity to integrate the permanent collection into their classes. Ms. Deeds organized a variety of Yale Art Gallery symposia and lectures, and was the facilitator for a National Endowment for the Arts Scholar Consultant Panel during the planning stage of the exhibition of the work of Jewish-American colonial silversmith, Myer Myers. Her public program Artists on Art, a series of lectures presented by Yale faculty representing eight academic departments, encouraged the interdisciplinary use of the collection. The subsequent publication, also titled Artists on Art conceived and edited by Ms. Deeds documented the popular series. While at Yale, Ms. Deeds curated two exhibitions: Hawaiian Eye – Collecting with Thurston Twigg–Smith, a show that entailed travel to Hawaii to select large scale works, and The Unmapped Body: 3 Black British Artists, chosen from the studios of emerging London artists. The latter exhibition was the first collaborative project between the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale Art Gallery for which she raised funds from five different Yale entities. Under Ms. Deeds’ leadership, each of the three London artists, Sonya Boyce, Keith Piper and Sutapa Biswas lived in Yale colleges for one week when they conducted classes in digital media, critiqued art classes, contributed to English department courses, and trained museum docents. Ms. Deeds was a member of the Yale Art Gallery’s Core Management Team that advised the director on policy matters and she was a Fellow of Timothy Dwight College. In 2000, she was elected by the Council of Masters at Yale University as an Associate Fellow of Jonathan Edwards College, where she has curated four exhibitions. From1998 to 2004 Ms. Deeds was a member of the graduate review panel for the Visual Studies Program at the Yale School of Architecture.
During 2001, Ms. Deeds was the interim Chief Curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. In this capacity Ms. Deeds advised the Acting Director and the curatorial staff regarding exhibitions planning and oversaw all aspects of planning and implementation for Impressionists at Argenteuil, a major exhibition that was organized by the Wadsworth, and opened at the National Gallery in Washington DC. She administered the exhibition budget, helped to plan the museum’s first satellite shop with audio tour guide equipment, and completed the final contracts for several pending exhibition catalogs.
From 2004 to 2005 Ms. Deeds was Associate Director for Major Gifts in the Development Department at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, where she initiated the Harriet Allyn Society, the premier level support group. While affiliated with the Lyman Allyn, she organized a symposium on visionary art.
In September 2005, Ms. Deeds assumed the position of Executive Director of the Weir Art Center in Wilton, Connecticut which sustains and promotes the legacy of American artist J. Alden Weir through its artist in residence program, lectures, exhibitions and publications. Ms. Deeds administered the revision of the mission, an analysis of the Board’s structure, the initiation of new programs, collaborative relationships with peer institutions, the fulfillment of a Save America’s Treasures grant for the rehabilitation of an historic building as an Artist in Residence studio, and two exceptionally successful gala fundraisers. During her tenure, the Weir Farm Art Center attendance and budget doubled, volunteer participation tripled, and groundwork was laid for the first endowment campaign.
Ms. Deeds is an independent consultant and curator working with museums, artists, collectors and galleries. She assisted Russian conceptualist artists Komar and Melamid in their efforts to place a seminal series of paintings in the permanent collection of a U.S. museum. Ms. Deeds was Guest Curator at the University of Minnesota’s Frederick Weisman Museum where she organized the circulating exhibition, Alfred Henry Maurer: The First American Modernist, wrote the accompanying catalog and delivered the keynote lecture at the opening of the Maurer exhibition at the Weisman Museum. Ms. Deeds curated the exhibition and wrote the catalogue of mid-twentieth century painter Charles Rain’s magic realism for Jonathan Edwards College at Yale. She also authored a contemporary art catalog dealing with the issue of memory and installation art by Catherine Ferguson. Recent projects include advising KANEKO, a think tank for creativity, organizing an outsider art exhibition in Camden, Maine, and an essay on Jun Kaneko’s sculpture for the Locks Gallery in Philadelphia.