After twenty-six years at the Hood Museum of Art, Lesley Wellman, Hood Foundation Curator of Education, will be leaving to take a new position as Head of Multigenerational Learning at the Saint Louis Art Museum in September. Lesley has consistently penned the Community of Learners section of the Hood Quarterly, and we are delighted to dedicate this issue’s column to celebrating Lesley and all that she has done to support learning at the museum and within our community.
Lesley is an educator who always puts best practice first, whether it is to support audiences, interpretation, evaluation, or collaboration. She advocates for education as an integral part of any initiative at the Hood, from planning an exhibition to piloting a new program or interpretive approach. An awareness of audience and multiple ways of accessing and learning from the art on view in the galleries has been the cornerstone of the Hood’s practice, and Lesley has led the way in this regard. She is an innovator as well—along with her education colleagues early in the 1990s, she developed the Hood’s “Learning to Look” method for engaging grade-school children with works of art, which utilizes strategies such as critical thinking, research, and interpretation. In the mid-2000s, “Learning to Look” expanded to include a series of brochures on signature works in the Hood’s collection so that walk-in visitors could benefit from the technique.
Lesley’s practice has always attracted support and attention from those who care deeply about museum education. She served as director of the Museum Division of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) from 2007 to 2011. In 2012, she was named National Museum Art Educator of the Year. This award recognizes the exemplary contributions, service, and achievements of one outstanding NAEA member annually at the national level within that division.
We will miss Lesley very much and wish her great success at the Saint Louis Art Museum.