Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution Announces the Appointments of Ben Gillespie as Oral Historian and Jacob Proctor as the Gilbert and Ann Kinney New York Collector

By the Archives

May 14, 2020

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Ben Gillespie

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Jacob Proctor

The Archives of American Art is pleased to announce the appointments of Ben Gillespie, as oral historian and Jacob Proctor as the Gilbert and Ann Kinney New York Collector. Gillespie and Proctor will both be based in the Archives’ New York Research Center at 300 Park Avenue South, continuing a commitment to collecting in the region that began in the early 1960s. For the time being, Ben and Jacob will work remotely in Oregon and Germany, respectively, as the Archives’ New York Research Center remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

Ben Gillespie received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University and most recently served as the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar in Library-Museum Collaboration at the University of Oregon. Previously, he worked at the Denver Art Museum in the modern and contemporary curatorial department. His research in American art has been supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the New York Public Library, and he is particularly interested in the ways by which we might recuperate, preserve, and amplify neglected artistic voices.

Gillespie wrote his dissertation on Mina Loy and his enduring research focus is twentieth-century American art and literature, with special attention to the role of the New York avant-garde in global cultural exchanges. During his time at Johns Hopkins University, Ben coordinated the “Hopkins History Project” at the JHU Library where he collected oral histories and artifacts for their archives and designed physical and digital exhibitions. He brings to his work at the Archives of American Art a depth of experience designing, conducting, and preserving interviews, as well as a researcher’s understanding of the value of oral history as primary evidence.

Jacob Proctor comes to the Archives of American Art from the Museum Brandhorst in Munich, where he has been curator since 2018. At the Museum Brandhorst he organized a major Alex Katz exhibition in 2018, co-edited and contributed to a new guide to the collection and is currently curating a mid-career survey of Lucy McKenzie, scheduled to open in September 2020.

Prior to his appointment in Munich, Proctor served as founding curator of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago, a position he held from 2013 through 2017.  At the Collegium he conceptualized, planned, and implemented a research-driven exhibition program and taught graduate seminars on topics in the history, theory, and criticism of postwar and contemporary art.

From 2014 to 2017, Jacob served as one of two external curators who advised on the selection of artists and projects for the “Frame,” “Focus,” and “Live” sections of the Frieze Art Fair in both London and New York. He has also served as curator at the Aspen Art Museum, associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and the Ruth V. S. Lauer Curatorial Assistant in the department of prints at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. His critical and art historical writings have appeared in Artforum and numerous monographs and exhibition catalogues. 

He brings to his work at the Archives more than fifteen years of art-world experience, specifically building relationships with art dealers, collectors, critics, historians, and both emerging and established artists.