Museum curator John Ravenal will give a presentation on "Outdoor Sculpture in the Changing Art Landscape" Tuesday, July 10, at 9 a.m. at the College of the Atlantic Gates Center. PHOTO COURTESY OF COA

Ravenal to discuss outdoor art

BAR HARBOR — Art historian, writer and museum curator John Ravenal kicks off College of the Atlantic’s summer 2018 Coffee and Conversation series on Tuesday, July 10, with a presentation entitled “Outdoor Sculpture in the Changing Art Landscape.” The free event begins at 9 a.m. in the Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Community Center.

Ravenal is the executive director of the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass. He has been at the helm of DeCordova since 2015. Previous to that, he served as the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for 15 years.

He previously served as president of the Association of Art Museum Curators and held curatorial positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Conn.

During his talk, Ravenal will discuss the interaction of sculpture and nature when art is placed outdoors, particularly the way outdoor sculpture creates a distinctly different experience than viewing art indoors.

“I’ll start by looking at my experience as a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, working in an encyclopedic museum and with their new sculpture garden. I’ll also address major international monuments and sculptures to underscore the point of how outdoor art creates a sense of place and destination,” Ravenal said. “From there, I’ll move on to deCordova and the experience of directing a sculpture park focused on modern and contemporary art.”

Established in 1950, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is dedicated to fostering the creation and exploration of contemporary sculpture and art through a dynamic slate of rotating exhibitions, innovative learning opportunities, a constantly changing 30-acre landscape of large-scale, outdoor modern and contemporary sculpture, and site-specific installations.

After growing up in Providence, R.I., and Washington, D.C., Ravenal received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He earned his master of arts and master of philosophy in art history from Columbia University. He has two children with his wife, Virginia Pye, a novelist originally from Belmont, Mass.

College of the Atlantic’s annual summer event series, including Coffee and Conversations, evening lectures and the Champlain Institute, offers free presentations, conversations and art from July through early September. The summer series is underwritten by the College of the Atlantic Champlain Society. Visit

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