After more than three decades working with local schoolchildren, collaborating with Cornell faculty and community organizations, and representing the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art to its audiences, Cathy Klimaszewski, associate director and the Ames Curator of Education, is retiring from Cornell.
A reception in her honor was held Jan. 31.
Klimaszewski joined the museum in August 1987 as an education assistant and became its first Ames Curator of Education in 1992. She was the creating and sustaining force behind the Johnson Museum’s Objects and Their Makers: New Insights (OMNI) program, providing thousands of area elementary and secondary school students with gallery and artmaking experiences. She also pioneered the museum’s academic integration on campus by organizing the museum’s Faculty Advisory Committee, teaching Cornell class sessions at the museum and collaborating with faculty on “The Museum and the Object,” “The Museum and the Public Sphere,” and other semester-long courses.
“I enjoy viewing and discussing artwork with people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Klimaszewski. “Their responses are often surprising and insightful. These interactions can be transformative experiences for them and for me.”
Among her community outreach endeavors, Klimaszewski teamed up with local leaders to create the initial plans for the Kids Discover the Trail! Program, which introduces children in Tompkins County elementary schools to experience-based learning programs at the eight sites of Ithaca’s Discovery Trail. “Young people have a wonderful openness to the world, are curious and expressive,” she said. “To be in on the early stages of a program that actively engaged children with art in the museum and to see their responses to these experiences was very gratifying.”
Klimaszewski curated exhibitions of quilts, was active with the Cornell Council for the Arts, and was a house fellow at Carl Becker House, an instructor for Cornell’s Adult University, and a volunteer with Groton Food Providers and the Cornell Elves Program.
Klimaszewski said she enjoyed “bringing people and art together; the intellectual stimulation of working with the collection; learning new things every day; and working with faculty, students, and museum and community colleagues to develop programs, expand our audiences and make the Johnson Museum a welcoming place for all.”
A full recognition of Klimaszewski’s many accomplishments can be found on the museum’s web pages.