Hudson River Museum Awarded Prestigious Samuel H. Kress Foundation Interpretive Fellowship

Kress Interpretive Fellow Christian Stegall Joins the Museum 
to Focus on Diversity in the Museum’s Collection

The Hudson River Museum is proud to announce that it is one of six museums in the country to receive a Kress Interpretive Fellowship. This highly competitive program is designed to provide mentored professional development opportunities and encourage students to explore interpretive careers in art museums to strengthen ties between museum educators and curators in the shared task of interpretive programming in art museums. The HRM has appointed Christian Stegall, who recently received his MA in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program to this position. Starting August 13, he will be working full-time at the Museum for one year.

Stegall’s work will focus on Discovering, Documenting and Discussing Yonkers’ Diversity as it relates to the Museum. He will conduct new research on the Museum’s collection, informed by the historical archives of the area, and engage in outreach and conversations with the local community to facilitate connections between these organizations and individuals with the Museum. Over the course of the year, Stegall will gather 19th- and 20th-century photographs and material culture relating to the history of people of color in our diverse community, with the intent of deepening and enhancing the Museum’s collection. He will integrate these materials into the stories the Museum tells about Yonkers’ history, developing holistic public programming and interdisciplinary curricula to interpret these objects for teachers, members of our community, and all who are committed to expanding the national conversation about the need for improved diversity in museums. In addition, Stegall will document his process and lead training for Adult and Junior Docents at the Museum. The fellowship will culminate in an exhibition of the historical images and personal stories collected during his research.

Director Masha Turchinsky states, “We are proud and honored to welcome Christian Stegall to the Hudson River Museum as a Kress Interpretive Fellow. We view his upcoming work as paramount to advancing the mission of the HRM and that of the museum profession as a whole. It is one of the Museum’s core values to connect with our community and ensure that our visitors feel represented in our galleries. We cannot tell the story of Yonkers without including people of color. This fellowship is part of a larger plan for the Museum to integrate and share the important narratives of those who built this diverse city—the fourth largest in New York— and figured in the history of the Hudson Valley.”

An interdisciplinary team of Museum staff members, including Saralinda Lichtblau, Assistant Director, Education, and Laura Vookles, Chair, Curatorial Department, will mentor Stegall in this role. Their teams’ work was recognized in 2017 with the Excellence in Public Programming Award from the Greater Hudson Heritage Network, and they have collaborated on numerous collection and exhibition projects over the years and have invaluable expertise in their respective areas. Stegall, in turn, will contribute to the mentorship of the Hudson River Museum Junior Docents, high school students from Yonkers Public Schools, who are part of the HRM’s nationally-recognized leadership training program. Other collaborations will develop throughout the year.

Christian Stegall, a native of Atlanta, received his MA in Museum Studies in May 2018. He earned his undergraduate degree in History, Phi Beta Kappa, from Morehouse College, with concentrations in the US and Latin America. His goal is to have an educational impact on children, especially children of color from underserved backgrounds, in non-traditional, informal settings. As part of his Museum Studies program, he studied material culture and worked with children and adults of all ages, including individuals with disabilities such as Down Syndrome and Autism. He has worked on a number of community-driven projects prior to and while in the graduate program, which includes organizing and leading programs for the public on a variety of current and historical issues, collaborating on events for the student body, fundraising, designing school programs, developing lesson plans, cataloguing, curating, and working with digital and social media.

The Samuel H. Kress Foundation (est. 1929) supports the work of individuals and institutions engaged with the appreciation, interpretation, preservation, study and teaching of the history of European art and architecture from antiquity to the dawn of the modern era, including the field of art history as practiced in American art museums and institutions of higher education, and in an array of research centers and libraries throughout the world. Competitive fellowships supported by the Kress Foundation are awarded to students of art history and related fields who are interested in art museum education and curating. In addition to the Hudson River Museum, The Samuel H. Kress Foundation awarded Interpretive Fellowships for the 2018-2019 year to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Fairfield University Museum of Art, George Eastman Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Portland Art Museum.