Mariët Westermann, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

TITLE: Vice President

FUNDING AREAS: Art history, conservation and museums

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: On paper, Westermann is an illustrious academic with a trail of publications and prominent posts at NYU. As a person, she seems to be approachable and humble, and under her practical exterior bubbles a clear and joyful passion for the arts.

PROFILE: Mariët Westermann joined Mellon as Vice President for Art History, Conservation, and Museums in 2010. Previously, she was living in Abu Dhabi as provost and chief academic officer of NYU's young campus there. She also spent six years as director of NYU's Institute of Fine Arts. Originally from Holland, she came to the states for a liberal arts education at Williams College, and completed her master's degree and Ph.D. at NYU in the history of art. And though she's now a principle playing in the world of philanthropy, she hasn't abandoned academics. She's still a researcher herself, currently focusing on painting in European culture, and the role of the Garden of Eden in various religions. 

You can get a good sense of the types of initiatives Westermann might favor by looking at her interests and experience. She has a global outlook, and supports and invests in learning and sharing across cultures. She's also orged a unique career path—the result of following her passions and embracing "unexpected opportunities." And while many question the validity of a liberal arts education today, Westermann is one of its most vocal proponents, arguing that it is all the more relevant in our globalized age

Additionally, she believes in bringing a depth of research and intensive study to museums and curatorial practices (I don't know about you, but I call multiple authoritative books on Dutch art depth of research). She'll spot weak or shallow work a mile away. It should come as no surprise that Mellon's current areas of focus for museums and art conservation all revolve around strengthening research and creating scholarly publications; establishing lasting positions, departments, and fellowships; and supporting graduate students, post-docs, and university programs. 

Though they share serious scholarly concerns, Mellon's recent grantees are diverse. Whether your program or organization is new or established, innovative or traditional, the most important thing in Westermann's eyes is that you grow and share expertise.