Colby Museum Announces New Curatorial Hires

September 6, 2022

The Colby College Museum of Art announced today that Sarah Humphreville has been appointed Lunder Curator of American Art. Humphreville possesses a keen interest in museum collections and a deep commitment to identifying artists worthy of new research and recognition in the field of American art. With rigorous and comprehensive curatorial skills, special expertise in American art of the 20th century, and knowledge of art mediums and techniques, Humphreville is uniquely prepared to develop exhibitions and undertake research at the Colby Museum, where she will have the opportunity to further her work as an innovative interpreter of American art, culture, and history. 

Humphreville comes to Waterville from New York, where she has worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art since 2012, first as a curatorial intern and most recently as a senior curatorial assistant. During her tenure at the Whitney, Humphreville worked on 12 special and permanent collection exhibitions and curated the revelatory Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930–1950. She has also been recognized for her curatorial contributions to several projects led by Barbara Haskell, including Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945; Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables; and Stuart Davis: In Full Swing. In addition to Humphreville’s accomplishments in exhibition curation, she has been responsible for several notable acquisitions for the Whitney’s permanent collection and has worked extensively with the museum’s Drawing and Print Committee. 

Humphreville holds a bachelor of arts in art history and a bachelor of fine arts from Cornell University, and a master of arts in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. A skilled writer and editor, her insightful essay for Labyrinth of Forms can be accessed on the Whitney website, and she also made significant contributions to the soon-to-be released Great Women Painters (Phaidon). Humphreville lectures and teaches regularly, most recently at the Art Students League of New York, School of the Visual Arts, and Columbia University and has been a frequent speaker for Whitney programs, including the “Ask a Curator” and “Behind the Scenes” conversation series. 

“Sarah has distinguished herself as a groundbreaking curator,” notes Elizabeth Finch, the Colby Museum’s chief curator. “At Colby, she will have the opportunity to steward an extraordinary collection of American art and develop exhibitions for a leading teaching museum. Sarah imbues everything she does with excellence, and we are thrilled to welcome her to the Colby Museum.” 

Humphreville arrives at the Colby Museum at an exciting time, as Waterville advances an arts-oriented revitalization that includes the December 2022 opening of the Paul J. Schupf Art Center featuring the museum’s Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery and the significant extension of its exhibition programs to downtown. In her new role, Humphreville will work closely with the Colby’s Museum’s Lunder Institute for American Art, and her commitment to new research is ideally aligned with the museum and institute’s coordinated initiatives to expand the field of American art.

 “I have long admired the Colby Museum and could not be more excited to join the institution, particularly during this tremendous moment of expansion, engagement, and institutional collaboration. I am looking forward to working with Colby’s students and faculty, engaging with the greater Waterville community, and broadening understanding of American art history,” Humphreville said.

Humphreville begins her new position with the Colby Museum on Sept. 26. The position of Lunder Curator of American Art was first held by Sharon Corwin, now President and CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art. The Lunder Curator of American Art plays a leading role in the ongoing stewardship, research, interpretation, display, access, and educational use of the museum’s collection with a focus on American art and the Lunder Collection. 

The Colby Museum also announced the appointment of Levi Prombaum as Katz Consulting Curator. In his first months, Prombaum has made significant contributions to the exhibition Alex Katz: Theater and Dance, while also serving as co-curator, with Siera Hyte, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art, of All in One: Selections from the Alex Katz Foundation Collection. A talented curator and art historian specializing in modern and contemporary American art, Prombaum holds a Ph.D. in art history from University College London. He recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship supported by the Getty Institute, where he furthered his work on a book project related to his dissertation, “Disagreeable Mirror Though One May Be: Portraits of James Baldwin, 1945–65.” He has also served as an American Council of Learned Societies Leading Edge Fellow at Mass MoCA, where directed the project Care Syllabus. Prombaum is assistant editor and a contributor for the catalog accompanying the Guggenheim Museum’s upcoming retrospective, Alex Katz: Gathering. Following the close of Alex Katz: Theater and Dance, Prombaum will install a new rotation of the Alex Katz Collection in the Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz. 

“I am thrilled to have Sarah and Levi join the Colby Museum’s curatorial team at this time, as we seek to lead, as an academic museum, in redefining how American art is understood and how art is made, taught, studied, and shared,” said Jacqueline Terrassa, the Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art.

“Sarah and Levi treat the question of history in the present tense and with a great deal of tenacity, rigor, and compassion. They understand artistic practice as always unfolding in context—social, economic, political, technological. In their curatorial, educational and scholarly work, they simultaneously make clear how artworks are evidence of their time and approach them as dynamic objects whose histories are never fully told.”

Image: Sarah Humphreville (left) and Levi Prombaum (right)