Experienced educator, curator, and public historian begins Feb. 13
By Christy DeSmith Harvard Staff Writer
DateFebruary 1, 2023January 31, 2023
Brenda Tindal will be the first chief campus curator for Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Claudine Gay, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, announced today. Tindal starts Feb. 13.
In her message to the FAS community, Gay called Tindal “a dynamic and collaborative arts and culture leader” who will “have primary programmatic oversight of visual culture and signage across FAS.”
“This is an opportunity to revitalize Harvard’s shared spaces in order to acknowledge the past, while celebrating the diversity of the present and promoting the vitality of the future. I am excited for the benefit of Brenda’s leadership and passion in supporting this important work,” Gay said.
Tindal is currently the executive director of Harvard Museums of Science and Culture (HMSC), an educator and scholar with nearly 20 years of experience working with and within museums, libraries, and archives. She will focus on expanding historical narratives and broadening representation, to capture a fuller picture of campus stories and community.
“In many ways, the campus is the most legible and voluminous text students will read,” said a “humbled and honored” Tindal. “If we desire to be a campus that embodies inclusive excellence and engenders a sense of belonging for an inherently global and diverse community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors, the essence of the campus — its visual culture, way-finding, interior and exterior aesthetics, and place-making attributes — must reflect those noble aspirations.”
The campus curator position was born out of the FAS Task Force on Visual Culture and Signage, charged in 2020 with articulating a more inclusive vision for shared campus settings. Tindal’s most urgent priorities in the role include renewing environments identified by the Task Force’s final report, submitted just over a year ago. Those spaces are the FAS Faculty Room, Annenberg Hall, and the GSAS Student Center in Lehman Hall.
Tindal will report to Dean of Administration and Finance Scott Jordan, who expressed confidence that “she is ready to lead our community in this important work.”
“The FAS administration is ready to support her, and I look forward to her partnership,” he said.
Since 2021, Tindal has sought to turn HMSC into what she calls “one of Harvard’s front porches,” or a welcoming place to all. Her proudest accomplishments include advancing initiatives to connect cultural and scientific assets with diverse communities within and outside the University, especially youth and families in Chelsea and Somerville. She also championed multilingual programming, exhibitions, and expansion of the museums’ overarching visitor experience.
Tindal came to Harvard with extensive experience and expertise in education, curation, history, and community engagement. Her previous role was with the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, where she launched the organization’s first education and strategic engagement initiatives while playing a key role in interpretive and curatorial plans. She also held posts with the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Princeton University.
“She is exactly the kind of visionary bridge-builder we need,” said Robin Kelsey, dean of arts and humanities and chair of the FAS Task Force on Visual Culture and Signage. “Brenda can help lead our efforts to tell a fuller story of Harvard, one that welcomes a more inclusive future and brings out the best in those who work and study here.”