Dallas Museum of Art Creates New Curatorship in Islamic and Medieval Art

Boston Portrait Photography by Zahar Raskin | RaskinStudio Photography | Boston, MA

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) has announced the establishment of a new endowed curatorial position.

Heather Ecker has been appointed as the DMA’s first Marguerite S. Hoffman and Thomas W. Lentz Curator of Islamic and Medieval Art, bringing nearly two decades of diverse curatorial, teaching, and institutional experiences to the role.

“This new curatorial position is a crucial step in fulfilling the DMA’s commitment to advancing scholarship and building engaging exhibitions and programs around the full spectrum of the Museum’s incredible holdings,” said Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director at the DMA. “We are deeply grateful to Marguerite Hoffman and Tom Lentz for so generously funding this new position,” said Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director at the DMA.

“I am also very pleased to welcome Heather Ecker to the new role,” Arteaga continued. “She offers a strong range of expertise and institutional experience, as well as a creative approach and sensitivity to the presentation of Islamic and medieval art.

“Her experience working in institutions to develop educational and interpretative resources will be critical to developing programming that engages the significant Islamic diasporic communities and other stakeholders with interests in both Islamic and medieval arts in the Dallas–Ft. Worth area and beyond.”

With the long-term loan of the Keir Collection in 2014, the DMA became the third largest repository of Islamic art in the United States.

This is in addition to its growing collection of European medieval art.

As the new Marguerite S. Hoffman and Thomas W. Lentz Curator of Islamic and Medieval Art, Ecker will oversee the presentation, research, conservation, and growth of the Museum’s holdings in these areas, including the Keir Collection, which encompasses almost 2,000 works that span 13 centuries of arts from the Islamic world.

Ecker brings to her new role significant experience at international museums, as well as an interdisciplinary and global approach to the study and presentation of Islamic and medieval art history. Currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, she previously served as the first Head of Curatorial Affairs and member of the management team at the Aga Khan Museum, a new museum start-up sponsored by His Highness the Aga Khan that opened in Toronto in 2014.

Her curatorial experience also includes positions at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar (2004-2005), and the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler (2002-2004). She has also held visiting professorships at Columbia University and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Ecker trained in objects conservation at the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, and held conservation internships and fellowships at leading institutions, including the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London. Ecker’s extensive knowledge of conservation practices and oversight will be integral to her new role at the DMA.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the curatorial role, encompassing the Islamic world and medieval Europe with its own diversity, including the production of Jewish arts, builds in capacity to cross traditional boundaries to reveal creative relationships between works of art and communities,” Ecker said.

“I could not feel more inspired by this exceptional opportunity.”

Ecker received undergraduate degrees from Harvard College and the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London, as well as an MPhil and DPhil from the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) in Islamic Art and Archaeology.

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