The Chazen Museum of Art shares the bittersweet news that Curator of Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts Maria F.P. Saffiotti Dale will retire August 17, 2021, after nearly 22 years of service to the museum and the university. Saffiotti Dale’s last day at the museum was June 4.
“Over her more than 20 years at the Chazen, in addition to mentoring students, conducting research, and giving personal tours of the collection (sometimes in Italian), Maria has especially excelled at fostering enduring relationships with faculty and staff across the university,” says Chazen Director Amy Gilman, PhD.
Highlights of Saffiotti Dale’s curatorial work at the Chazen include Hidden Treasures: Illuminated Manuscripts from Midwestern Collections; Italian Drawings from the Joseph F. McCrindle Collection; Restoring a Baroque Painting: Sirani’s “Signora Ortensia Leoni Cordini as Saint Dorothy;” and Mannerism in Italy and the Low Countries. As venue curator, Saffiotti Dale presented traveling exhibitions including Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible; Paris 1900: The American School at the Universal Exposition; and exhibitions of work from Italy that allowed her to share her Italian heritage with museum visitors and the community: Life, Love & Marriage in Renaissance Italy; In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura; and Offering of the Angels: Paintings and Tapestries from the Uffizi Gallery.
“It has been my honor to work at an institution that serves a world-class university and a city deeply engaged with the arts,” says Saffiotti Dale.
“Collaborating with colleagues in many different areas of the university by facilitating access to and knowledge of the collection has been a pleasure and an experience that has expanded my own horizons. I have had wonderful student curatorial assistants who have gone on to work in museums and other arts fields and I want to thank them all for all their hard work on the collection. Working with living artists has also been an especially fulfilling part of my job, particularly in building the museum’s permanent collection holdings of work by women and indigenous artists connected to the university, including recent acquisitions by Marjorie Kreilick, Audrey Handler, and Truman Lowe. Sharing the wide-ranging museum collections with the local community as well as with colleagues and audiences further afield has been a true privilege.”
Among Saffiotti Dale’s many achievements are publication of European Medals in the Chazen Museum of Art: Highlights from the Vernon Hall Collection and Later Acquisitions; securing the long-term loan of medieval objects from The Metropolitan Museum of Art; bringing the St. John’s Bible exhibition to the Chazen; and working with St. John’s Abbey and colleagues on campus to create an engaging series of events, including inviting Christopher de Hamel, one of the leading medieval manuscript scholars, to give the keynote lecture.
Saffiotti Dale earned an AB, magna cum laude, from Princeton University in the Department of Art and Archaeology with a European Cultural Studies Certificate; an MA in the history of art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London; and completed PhD studies and a Curatorial Studies Certificate from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
Saffiotti Dale will stay busy in retirement: “I will be returning to research in my area of expertise, particularly medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, as well as continue to creatively engage with living artists,” she says. “Bringing the art of the past alive is a passion that brings me much joy and I will never tire of communicating that passion to others.”