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Group of about 25 people lined up in rows for a group photograph in a room with wooden floors and white metal racks on back wall with a window

staff updates

The past year has been momentous for SCMA staff and our visitors. After months of pandemic closure and only limited opening hours for Smith classes, we were finally able to swing the museum doors wide open in August 2021. Our reopening was a staff-wide effort, calling on every department and individual to prepare the galleries, share the reopening with audiences and invite classes, teachers and faculty back to the museum. Our team created a dynamic and inviting environment for people and art. It was thrilling to see people back in the spaces, exploring artworks that, in the mostly dark and empty galleries, had seemed less than their full selves.

In the days leading up to our reopening, we welcomed to the museum a fabulous group of returning and new Visitor Experience, Shop and Safety Team staff. These team members are often the first people visitors encounter at SCMA, and they are the people who field questions about museum visit essentials. They help visitors find snacks or quiet nooks, curiosity-inducing artworks, eye-catching shop items and more. The museum’s team members bring an incredible array of skills, interests and experiences to SCMA. The team includes ceramicists, woodworkers, painters, writers, teachers, graphic designers, community organizers and, on top of this, several staff members who know every corner in the museum building. We invite you to stop and chat when you are next in the galleries.

Man with short hair standing next to a woman with long brown hair
Two men talking a an art gallery


Over the last year, we have also been fortunate to be joined by two new colleagues in Collection Management, Contract Preparators Matt Zimmerman and Leah Hughes. In addition, two new museum department heads arrived at SCMA, Associate Director of Communications Tiffany Bradley and Associate Director of Learning and Interpretation Nina C. Peláez.

Woman with short blond in a dark dress standing in a gray painted corridor with her hands on a railing posed and looking at the camera
Woman in black top and jeans with brown hair up in a braids and a bun with one arm on the railing standing in a corridor with gray walls


Since arriving at the museum in the fall, Matt has created custom mats for more than 700 works on paper in the museum’s collection, making it possible to safely study and teach with these artworks. Leah worked with the Collection Management department to install exhibitions, including Maya Lin: Mappings, which involved feats such as individually placing roughly 20,000 steel pins in the gallery walls to create the works Pin River—Sandy and Untitled Pin River Connecticut.

Nina arrived at SCMA in March, joining us from across the Berkshire mountains at the Williams College Museum of Art, where she was Curator of Programs and Interpretation. Nina’s creative and empathetic thinking about museum audiences has been seen and felt in a new visitor feedback area in SCMA’s third-floor gallery. In just a few months, we heard ideas and hopes from dozens of museum visitors about what the third-floor galleries might look like after a reinstallation planned for 2023–2024.

Tiffany joined the museum in April, bringing deep experience as an arts marketer, media consultant and program development leader, including as the Founder and Director of Colored Criticism, a media and consulting firm convening people of color in the arts since 2015. Her expertise in strategic communications and audience engagement have been formative as we welcome visitors back to the galleries and share new installations, exhibitions, and programs. As she leads the development of stories about the exhibitions and learning happening at SCMA, we have been seeing the numbers of visitors exploring SCMA’s social media and our website exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

As much as the transitions of 2021–2022 brought forms of relief and excitement, they were also challenging. The pace of change at SCMA, as at so many other organizations, has been constant. As we welcomed wonderful new colleagues, we also said goodbye to staff members who had long been an indelible part of SCMA. And even for those returning, there is no way to simply pick up where we left off in 2020—our communities at Smith and in Northampton have been transformed through the last couple of years. There is much to learn and adapt to as we figure out the possibilities and needs of this moment. Most important, we continue to learn what you, SCMA’s communities, are seeking when you come into the museum galleries. Whether it is for respite, conversation, learning, pleasure, provocation or a chance to refamiliarize yourself with some of the most exciting restrooms the East Coast has to offer, we invite you back to the museum and would love to hear about your visit.

top: SCMA staff; middle left: Contract Preparators Matt Zimmerman and Leah Hughes; middle right: Visitor Experience Manager Justin Thomas in conversation with a gallery visitor in the Maya Lin: Mappings exhibition. Photo by Shana Sureck for SCMA; bottom left: Nina C. Peláez, Associate Director of Learning and Interpretation; bottom right: Tiffany Bradley, Associate Director of Communications; above bottom: SCMA staff