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Meet our newest curator

June 13th, 2017

Caroline Shields. Photo courtesy of the AGO/Craig Boyko.

The AGO recently welcomed a new curator to its ranks: Caroline Shields, Assistant Curator of European Art.

A specialist in 19th century European art, Caroline comes to the AGO after working in international curatorial roles at the National Gallery of Art, Washington; the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. At the National Gallery, she worked on the 2015 exhibition Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye, while in her role at the Museum of Fine Arts, she investigated paintings with disputed or uncertain artist attributions. Caroline received her PhD in art history from the University of Maryland this spring with a dissertation on Paul Gauguin.

We recently sat down with Caroline to get to know her.

AGO: So far, if you had to sum up Toronto in one word what would it be?

Caroline: Vibrant.

AGO: Having recently moved here, what do you love about the city? What have you discovered?

Caroline: I have barely begun to explore all this city has to offer, but so far, bouncing between my neighbourhood in Deer Park and the AGO, I love how quickly the city shifts from a pulsing urban environment to a quiet, leafy residential area. I am also loving that this is a runner-friendly city, with lots of people out jogging and biking on the paths.

AGO: What work in the AGO collection are you most excited by?

Caroline: This is like choosing a favourite child! I’ll give a few for different reasons: our Degas, Woman at Her Bath, is stunning for its colour and the gently curving lines that carry our eyes across the painting. I feel so lucky to get to look at this painting every day once it is installed. I am also excited to learn more about our artworks by working with the Conservation department. Rodin’s terracotta Head of Pierre Wissant is deeply moving in its expressiveness, but there is more to discover about its insides – by doing internal scans, we hope to learn about its structure and how it was assembled. Lastly, there is a painting by a little-known Impressionist in our collection that I don’t believe has been shown since we acquired it over a decade ago, in part because it is in need of conservation treatment. I am excited by the prospect that, with the help of our conservators, one day it can hang among its Impressionist peers in our galleries.

AGO: What are you researching/working on right now?

Caroline: I am diving right into the Look:Forward reinstallation of the European galleries, most specifically the Fudger and Frank P. Wood Galleries, which are scheduled to open in early July, with paintings and sculpture from the 1600s through 1800s. In my first weeks, I have been working very closely with AGO interpretive planners to write the extended labels for these artworks. It is a fun and rewarding process, with the goal of helping our visitors discover their own connections with and insights into the art that brings us together here.


The European Art curatorial team here at the AGO has been hard at work on the galleries’ reinstallation as part of Look: Forward. The recently re-opened E.R. Wood Gallery focuses on 17th century Dutch and Flemish art; it includes artists like Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Frans Hals, Anthony van Dyck and Hendrick ter Brugghen.

Some of the artworks Caroline mentioned will also be included in the reinstallation of Fudger and Frank P. Wood Galleries that re-open in July. Be sure to keep an eye on our Look: Forward webpage to see what galleries are re-opening and closed for installation, and if you see Caroline in the halls be sure to say “Hi!”

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