BOSTON (September 9, 2021)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), has announced the appointment of theo tyson as the Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts, a position responsible for developing the MFA’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century fashion, organizing innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions and programs, and stewarding the Fashion Council, a group of supporters devoted to the Museum’s fashion arts program. Tyson formerly served as the Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art and Culture at the Boston Athenæum. She will begin her new role at the MFA, reporting to the Beal Family Chair, Department of Contemporary Art, on November 1.
“Theo’s curatorial practice, which rests at the intersections of fashion, race, gender, class, identity and sexuality, is ideally suited to further the Department’s goal of developing broad and inclusive narratives that consider various media and historically siloed collections as intrinsically connected,” said Reto Thüring, Beal Family Chair, Department of Contemporary Art. “I strongly believe that we have found an amazing new colleague in Theo—someone with the ability to build on the past successes and strong reputation of the fashion collection and program at the MFA, while also being able to take the position into exciting new territory.”
In 1930, the MFA established the first textile arts department in an American museum. Today, the collection is global in scope, encompassing more than 30,000 objects that range from ancient Egyptian pleated dresses to contemporary haute couture and ready-to-wear garments. In close collaboration with colleagues, Tyson will develop an overall vision for the fashion collection that prioritizes inclusion, community and relevancy—recommending acquisitions that strengthen and diversify the MFA’s holdings and creating exhibitions that boldly combine objects and ideas to engage Boston’s community and beyond.
"I am beyond thrilled to join the MFA, and I am grateful for the opportunity to champion the art of community through fashion,” said Tyson.
Following 20 years of entrepreneurial and corporate experience in the fashion industry, Tyson held positions as a project manager at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and as a stylist and researcher at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, where she worked on the 2018 exhibitions Pierre Cardin: Pursuit of the Future and Guo Pei: Couture Beyond. She curated the exhibition (Anti)SUFFRAGE (2019) during her fellowship at the Boston Athenæum and is co-curating an upcoming exhibition of works by visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as well as serving as an advising scholar for Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love (2022) at the Peabody Essex Museum. Tyson received her master’s degree at the Savannah College of Art and Design and undergraduate degrees from the American InterContinental University and Alabama A&M University.
About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Founded on February 4, 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), stands on the historic homelands of the Massachusett people, a site which has long served as a place of meeting and exchange among different nations. The Museum opened its doors to the public on July 4, 1876—the nation’s centennial—at its original location in Copley Square. Over the next several decades, the MFA’s collection and visitation grew exponentially, and in 1909, the Museum moved to its current home on Huntington Avenue. Today, the MFA houses a global collection encompassing nearly 500,000 works of art, from ancient to contemporary.