Cantor Arts Center Appoints New Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas

Stanford, Calif., July 24, 2014 — Connie Wolf, director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, announces the appointment of Catherine M. Hale as the new Phyllis Wattis Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas. Hale will develop this area of the collection, including its documentation, research, preservation, presentation and growth. She will also curate original exhibitions; develop programming to make the African and Native American collection more accessible and relevant to the museum’s diverse audiences; and encourage academic departments and student groups across campus to use the museum’s resources. Her work at the Cantor begins September 15, 2014.

“After an international search, I am delighted to welcome Catherine Hale to our team,” said Connie Wolf. “With her amazing skill set, she can offer fresh perspectives on the collection and enliven it with contemporary art and issues. She also has proven experience integrating a museum’s collection into a university’s teaching curriculum—one of the Cantor’s most immediate missions.”

Hale comes to Stanford from the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA), where she served three years as the curator of African and non-Western art. She curated UIMA’s Visual Classroom, an on-campus gallery designed to facilitate immediate encounters with works of art from the museum’s collections, and also designed and implemented an interactive digital map that uses Geographic Information Systems technology and allows museum visitors to see connections between the African objects on display and such topics as ethnolinguistic groupings, colonial activities, trade routes and health statistics. Hale also reinstalled the African and Pre-Columbian exhibition spaces, curated the exhibitions Art and Life in Africa and Interplay: Material, Method and Motif in West African Art, and helped to acquire important works for UIMA, including a diptych from Carrie Mae Weems’s Africa Series.

Prior to joining UIMA, Hale taught upper-level undergraduate courses at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario and curated exhibitions of African art for the Carleton University Art Gallery and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston. She holds a Ph.D. and an Artium Magister degree from Harvard University and an M.A. in Canadian Art History from Carleton University. Her primary research area is the “traditional” African arts, but she has acquired in-depth understanding of more recent modes of artistic production through her curatorial projects, coursework and extracurricular study.

“I am delighted to be joining Connie Wolf and the outstanding Cantor team at this exciting moment for the arts at Stanford,” said Hale. “My interest in the potential of technology for museum education models, and my commitment to integrating curatorial programming with the wider community, make Stanford a great fit. Looking ahead, one of my first priorities will be to connect with faculty and students across the university—I want to hear about their engagement with the arts of Africa and the Americas and begin developing collaborative projects that will enrich campus life.”


Hale is the fourth Phyllis Wattis Curator at the Cantor Arts Center, a position endowed by the late Bay Area philanthropist Phyllis Wattis through a generous gift that also supports acquisitions, exhibitions, conservation and educational programs. Wattis’s generosity to Stanford also includes assistance in establishing the Rodin Sculpture Garden in 1985 and endowing three professorships in 1988 in the areas of art, medicine and business.


The Cantor’s Arts of Native America and Ancient America
The Cantor has an outstanding collection of nearly 1,500 objects from a diverse range of Native cultures of North, Central, and South America dating from around 1200 BCE to the present. The collection includes more than 200 works created before European contact in the 15th century. The development of modern and contemporary Native American art in the 20th and 21st century is represented in the collection by about 50 works. The Cantor dedicates two galleries to this portion of its collection. Learn more


The Cantor’s Arts of Africa
The Cantor’s extensive African art collection includes works from across the continent, dating from the pre-dynastic periods of ancient Egypt to the present day. Of the nearly 2,500 objects in the African collection, about 1,300 works originate from ancient Egyptian and Coptic traditions. The remaining works, about 1,200, were made in diverse sub-Saharan cultures during the late 19th to the mid 20th centuries.
The permanent display of African art is divided into three chronological sections: contemporary works made in a variety of media from the 1950s to the present, by artists living in Africa and the Diaspora; African arts from the 16th to the mid-20th century; and the oldest African arts in the museum collections, ranging from pre-dynastic Egypt to 15th-century sub-Saharan cultures. Learn more


Cantor Arts Center
The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is a vital and dynamic institution with a venerable history. Founded in 1891 with the university, the historic museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor. The Cantor’s encyclopedic collection spans 5,000 years, includes more than 40,000 artworks and beckons visitors to travel around the world and through time: from Africa to the Americas to Asia, from classical to contemporary. With 24 galleries presenting selections from the collection and more than 20 special exhibitions each year, the Cantor serves Stanford’s academic community, draws art lovers from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond and attracts campus visitors from around the world. Free admission, free tours, lectures, family activities plus changing exhibitions make the Cantor one of the most well-attended university art museums in the country and a great resource for teaching and research on campus.

The Cantor collects, preserves and studies art from all cultures and periods, serving Stanford University and the public through exhibitions and programs that inspire the understanding and enjoyment of art.

Visitor Information
Admission to the Cantor Arts Center is free. Docents offer a variety of free art tours Wednesday through Sunday. The Cantor is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., plus Thursday until 8 p.m. Beginning September 22, the Cantor will also be open on Mondays, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. The Cantor is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free on weekends and after 4 p.m. weekdays. For more visitor information, call 650-723-4177 or visit the museum’s Web site at

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Notes to Editors
• To arrange interviews, or obtain more information, contact Anna Koster, Head of Communications, Cantor Arts Center, 650-725-4657,
• For high-resolution publicity images, contact PR Assistant Manager Margaret Whitehorn, Cantor Arts Center, 650-724-3600,



Catherine M. Hale the new Phyllis Wattis Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas, begins September 15, 2014.