Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Appoints Elizabeth Dospěl Williams as Penny Vinik Chair of Fashion, Textiles and Jewelry

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), has appointed Dospěl Williams as the Penny Vinik Chair of Fashion, Textiles and Jewelry. Dospěl Williams comes to the MFA from Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C., where she currently serves as Curator, Byzantine Collection and is responsible for historical textiles and jewelry collections, research and exhibitions. She will assume her new position in charge of the David and Roberta Logie Department of Fashion, Textiles and Jewelry on July 29, 2024.

“I am thrilled to join the MFA’s innovative department of fashion, textiles and jewelry, a leading force in bringing together these media across geographies and time," said Dospěl Williams. "Furnishings, clothing and adornment are universal to all human cultures, yet at the same time they reveal the uniqueness of communities and individuals in deeply personal terms. I look forward to advancing the MFA’s global vision for historical and contemporary fashion, textiles and jewelry in this exciting role.”

Dospěl Williams’ exhibitions and publications have explored historical dress practice, gender, materiality and aesthetics through a focus on wearable objects and interior design. Her most recent exhibition, Rich in Blessings: Women, Wealth, and the Late Antique Household, is currently on view at Dumbarton Oaks. Throughout her scholarly and curatorial activities, she has been committed to making jewelry and textiles accessible to broad audiences through innovative programming, open-access publications and engaging exhibitions.

Dospěl Williams completed a Ph.D. in Byzantine and Islamic art history and archaeology at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and earned an ALM in Management at Harvard University, Extension School, with a focus on non-profit management and organizational behavior. Her publications on textiles and jewelry have appeared in Dumbarton Oaks Papers, West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture, and The Textile Museum Journal, as well as numerous edited volumes and exhibition catalogues.

Dospěl Williams serves on the editorial board of The Art Bulletin as well as the governing boards of the Medieval Academy of America and the International Center for Medieval Art. Her professional training includes the 2015 Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice at the Center for Curatorial Leadership, as well as the 2018 German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for WWII-era research.

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The MFA brings many worlds together through art. Showcasing masterpieces from ancient to contemporary, our renowned collection of nearly 500,000 works tells a multifaceted story of the human experience—a story that holds unique meaning for everyone. From Boston locals to international travelers, visitors from across the globe come to experience the MFA. Through both art and audience, the Museum brings together diverse perspectives—revealing connections, exploring differences, creating a community where all belong.

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Karen Frascona