Pacing the bottom floor of the Lehigh University Art Gallery(LUAG), William Crow, the new gallery director, pondered each painting. He stopped at Marsden Hartley’s Fruit in Basket and smiled.
“I’ve come to have so many favorites in this gallery,” Crow said.
Before arriving at Lehigh, Crow’s career path took him in and out of academia.
He began working at a public art group called Creative Time, where he helped execute a number of art exhibitions around New York City. Crow moved to a few smaller galleries and eventually ended up in charge of teaching and learning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a role he held for 20 years. While working at the Met, Crow served as an adjunct professor at both New York University and Johns Hopkins University.
Crow is the replacement for Ricardo Viera, who was the LUAG director since 1974. He will serve a professor of practice in the art, architecture and design department.
“I wanted to invert my professional life,” Crow said. “I wanted to have more of my full-time experience at a university, while still being able to have my hand in museums.”
As the director of the galleries, Crow cares for Lehigh’s collection, overseeing the curators and other gallery administrators while creating programs and exhibitions.
Crow said he hopes to involve the galleries in everything Lehigh does — he has already reached out to many professors to encourage them to incorporate the galleries into their curricula.
Denise Stangl, the LUAG office administrator, has gotten to know Crow’s leadership capacity.
“He’s very open, very engaging,” Stangl said. “He likes to hear your ideas, and that’s something not necessarily common.”
Stangl works with artists and donors, constantly collecting new pieces to display and completing the necessary paperwork to make the LUAG a fascinating learning environment. She said she got along with Crow as soon as she met him.
Crow said he has many plans for the galleries that involve work beyond the art on the wall. He believes in education through art and wants to make the galleries a platform for people to exercise their voices and experience different cultures and perspectives.
“There’s an infinite amount of potential here,” Crow said. “One of the things that drew me to Lehigh is that the university and the local community are really poised in a moment of great change where there’s a lot of investment in the arts, creativity and innovation.”
Mark Wonsidler, the curator of exhibitions, collections and publications, has observed Crow’s determination to educate and express every wonder that the LUAG has to offer.
“His energy is great, we really appreciate having a fresh eye at the helm,” Wonsidler said. “He’s helping us all re-evaluate our practices and planning. It’s an exciting time and he’s bringing a lot of energy.”
The LUAG staff recently returned from a two-day retreat that helped facilitate team bonding. Stangl said the trip allowed the staff to get on the same page and share their ideas for the galleries with each other. The retreat also emphasized Crow’s goal to integrate the galleries into all aspects of life within Lehigh.
Wonsidler said that Crow has a lot of teaching experience and knowledge that will make him a great director and professor at Lehigh.
“He’s poised to help us integrate our museum vision with the educational vision of the university,” Wonsidler said. “It’s what we have always been doing, but there is always a way to move it forward. We’re excited to learn from him.”