This article was previously published in the special edition, ALUMNAE (December 2018).
BA 1999, MA 2000, PhD 2007
Currently the Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions for the illustrious Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Nancy Ireson is a true Courtauldian, having spent her entire academic career at the Courtauld Institute of Art – obtaining a BA in History of Art, an MA in European Art, and a PhD on the work of Henri Rousseau. Her research is particularly based in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European art.
After her time at The Courtauld, Ireson quickly developed an incredible résumé of experience in some of the world’s most prestigious art institutions; starting off as a documentary researcher for the Tate’s Rousseau exhibition, before acquiring a position as assistant curator at the National Gallery and moving on soon after to begin a research fellowship at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She then returned to The Courtauld for a few years as a visiting curator on the 2011 exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril: Beyond the Moulin Rouge.
In 2013, she moved overseas and joined The Art Institute of Chicago to work as an associate curator. While there, Ireson curated Temptation! The Demons of James Ensor, in partnership with the Getty Museum. For this exhibition, Ireson worked to integrate digital technology into the exhibition space for the first time –
implementing interactive touchscreens that allowed viewers to see evidence of the artist’s fine technical process. “It opened my mind to new ways of communicating research,” Ireson said. Just a few years later, she would introduce virtual reality to the Tate Modern, helping to launch ‘Modigliani VR: The Ochre Atelier,’ which allowed visitors to virtually explore the modern master’s Paris studio.
Ireson was appointed as Curator in International Art at the Tate in 2015. Her exhibition Picasso 1932 – Love Fame Tragedy, was a resounding success, as was her exhibition on Modigliani. This year she was appointed to and took up the post of Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions at the Barnes Foundation. Over just fifteen years, Ireson has left a resounding and influential mark on the art world.