The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University welcomes Erin Northington as the Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director of Campus and Community Education and Engagement.
Northington comes to The Block from Harvard University where she served as the Assistant Director of Student Programs and Campus Initiatives at the Harvard Art Museums and has held roles of progressive leadership since 2011.
At the Harvard Art Museums, Northington directed student engagement and campus outreach initiatives, including co-curricular programming for students of all backgrounds and levels of museum experience, collaborations with campus offices, and long-term partnerships with groups who have been historically underrepresented in the museum field. During her tenure, she established the Harvard Art Museums Student Board, a multidisciplinary undergraduate advisory and ambassadorial group that works alongside museum staff and leadership to better integrate the museum into student life and respond to contemporary concerns.
“Erin is an academic museum and higher education professional dedicated to the ways that university museums contribute to the intellectual, social, and personal development of students, and the role of museums in their communities and the world today. We welcome her leadership at this moment as we seek to listen to our students and community and evolve in our shared commitment to becoming a truly diverse, inclusive, and equitable museum and an instrument of change.”Lisa Corrin, Ellen Philips Katz Director, The Block Museum of Art
Deeply committed to student life, Northington was also proctor and academic advisor in the Dean of Students Office and lived in residence on campus providing academic and personal counsel to Harvard’s first-year students. She has worked closely with senior curators at the Harvard Art Museums and the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to design museum immersion programs for first-generation and low-income college students and developed Project ALICE, a student-driven pilot accessibility initiative for museum visitors with visual impairments
In 2019, Northington was selected as a Harvard Hero for her work to bring “daring projects” to the Harvard Art Museums that foster a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all and “create a culture of inclusive excellence” at the museum, in the galleries, and on campus. Among her first undertakings at the Block is a partnership with Feinberg School of Medicine’s Center for Health Equity Transformation. In a pilot program during summer 2020, Northington will work with undergraduate fellows from the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative Research Fellows Program to consider the Block’s collection as an interdisciplinary catalyst to investigate timely issues of empathy, equity, identity, and navigating ambiguity.
“It is hard to imagine Harvard—and the Harvard Art Museums—without Erin’s energy, compassion, and powerful advocacy for students. But then, speaking now as a Block Museum board member and a Northwestern alumna (Ph.D. ’94), I am delighted that Erin and the Block are joining forces at this exciting time in the museum’s history. It’s a stellar opportunity for both and I will be cheering from the sidelines,” says Martha Tedeschi, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums.
Prior to her work at Harvard, Northington served as a member of the senior staff at the Pluralism Project, a research organization dedicated to the study of religious diversity; Harvard Kennedy School; and the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Master of Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School, and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley in Art History and English.
Commenting on her new role, Northington said: “I am thrilled to join the Block Museum team, and the Northwestern University community. The Block Museum’s commitment to diversity and inclusion; innovative work with campus and community; and focus on interdisciplinary teaching and learning is enormously inspiring and exciting. I am eager to help advance The Block’s mission of building authentic local and global partnerships, and to create meaningful programs and opportunities where all voices, perspectives, and ideas are valued.”
Northington’s appointment results from a national search led by Lisa Corrin and Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, in consultation with a committee of advisors from across Northwestern University including; Peter Civetta, Director, Undergraduate Research Office; Dave Davis, Executive Director, Neighborhood and Community Relations; Kyle Delaney, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Marketing at the McCormick School of Engineering; Samir Desai, former Executive Director of Learning and Organization Development in the School of Education and Social Policy; Melina Gooray, PhD Student, Art History Department and Special Projects Fellow at the Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia; Roma Khanna, Senior Director in Organizational Strategy and Change; and Baron Reed, Faculty, Department of Philosophy, Director of Northwestern Faculty Pathways Initiative. The committee worked in consultation with Kate Ezra, former Curator, Yale University Art Gallery and Jean Shedd, former Northwestern Associate Provost for Budget, Facilities, and Analysis, members of The Block board of advisors, as well as the Block staff and a committee of Northwestern University students including; Lois Biggs (BA 2020 Art History, Comparative Literature), Brianna Heath (BA 2021 Art History, African American Studies), Sarah Estrela (PhD Art History), Simran Bhalla (PhD Screen Cultures), and Cait DiMartino (PhD Art History).