Unless you are an employee of, member, docent or frequent visitor to the University of Miami's Lowe Art Museum in Coral Gables it's likely you're unaware that it is South Florida's oldest visual arts institution and boasts a whopping 19,000 objects spanning five millenniums of art history in its collection today.
But that's all about to change for the only place in town where you can catch rare Jewish mosaics from the Roman Empire and ancient Greek urns, contemporary Cuban paintings, pre-Colombian sculptures or Renaissance opuses during an afternoon visit to the research and teaching institution at any given time.
That's because the Lowe, which had its genesis in a musty UM campus classroom back in 1950 and opened to the public in a free-standing building two years later, has hired Dr. Jill Deupi as its new director and charged her with helping place the museum atop the region's cultural organizations.
"I am honored to have been selected to lead the Lowe Art Museum as it embarks on an exciting new chapter in its rich and storied history," says Deupi, who currently serves as director and chief curator of University Museums at Fairfield University in Connecticut.
While at Fairfield, Deupi also served as an assistant professor of art history since 2008, as well as founding director of the campus' Bellarmine Museum of Art which opened in 2010.
Deupi says the Lowe is "perfectly poised to catapult itself to the next level, building upon its tremendous resources and past successes while embracing 21st century museum practice, contemporary art and culture, and new education modalities - above all, participatory learning."
The 44 year-old mother of three also credits the Lowe's solid foundation and Miami's effervescent arts scene for her decision to join UM, beginning August 11.
"I am thrilled to be coming to Miami. My husband, Victor, is a Cuban-American and has strong family ties to the city. He is an architect who teaches at the School of Architecture and Design at the New York Institute of Technology and will be joining me at the University of Miami as a lecturer on the faculty here," Deupi adds.
The moment that Deupi takes the reins of the Lowe, she will become one of the highest credentialed museum professionals in South Florida. Deupi was selected for the position after an exhaustive search, Leonidas Bachas, dean of UM's College of Arts & Sciences, explained in a statement.
"Her distinguished museum experience and academic background in art and art history, as well as her enthusiasm to involve our students in experiential learning are a perfect combination for the Lowe to expand its reach as a didactic resource for the university and local community," Bachas said.
A fellow of the American Academy in Rome, Deupi wrote her doctoral dissertation on art and cultural politics in 18th century Naples. Her prior museum experience includes work at the Royal Academy of Arts, London; the Art Institute of Chicago, the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, Indiana; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Wallace Collection, London. Although her area of scholarly expertise is 18th century European art, neoclassicism, and museology, Deupi possesses an impressive breadth of art historical knowledge: she has curated exhibitions devoted to 20th and 21st century photography; mid-century American painting; contemporary sculpture; ancient Chinese funerary sculpture; 20th century portraiture; and 20th century Venetian glass, among others.
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Deupi, who is both a prominent scholar and author, earned a bachelor's from Mount Holyoke College and a law degree from American University's Washington College of Law where she graduated summa cum laude. She also holds a master's and a Ph. D. in art history from both the University of London's Birkbeck College and the University of Virginia.
But one thing Deupi has yet to accomplish, despite her ties to the Magic City, is a visit to Art Basel Miami Beach, which she says she's looking forward to.
"I have not made it to Art Basel Miami Beach yet because I've been more New York-centric in terms of the art fairs because of my duties. But I'm really excited about this coming December," Deupi says. "Moving to Miami will be a bit of a change from New England both in climate and life experiences and I couldn't be happier."