One year ago, as calendar year 2021 finally drew to a close, I wrote in our annual report that the last few years had been unlike any other years in recent memory. And I cautiously expressed the hope that the new year would bring a welcome return to our pre-pandemic world, while also affirming our shared commitment to building a new world together. As we now look back on 2022, we are pleased to be able to suggest—cautiously—that this hope may finally be beginning to materialize. We seem to be beginning, at least, to emerge from the darkness into the light.
In searching for a metaphor of our shared situation, I find myself reminded of an exhibition developed and hosted by the Fairfield University Art Museum and on display throughout the last quarter of the 2022 calendar year (September 16–December 17). Entitled “Out of the Kress Vaults
,” this inspired exhibition—co-curated by museum staff in partnership with undergraduate students of art history and dedicated to works of art from the Kress Collection that are not routinely on public display—was subtitled “Women in Sacred Renaissance Painting,” responding to a timely and long-overdue shift in focus throughout the history of art.
We ourselves are now hoping and seeking to emerge “out of the vaults” created by a sustained global pandemic. Art museums here and abroad, including the scores of academic and municipal art museums that jointly steward the Kress Collection, are reopening. Scholarly societies, among them an important suite of organizations supported by the Kress Foundation, are reconvening in person at professional conferences and other scholarly convenings, often enhanced by an online presence. Pre-doctoral art history students are once more assuming Kress fellowship posts at key art history institutes in the US and Europe. Scholarly publishing in art history, often based upon in situ research in primary sources, is again flourishing, both in print and online.
The grant and fellowship awards described below speak powerfully to our own efforts at the Kress Foundation to help the field of art history—and of course the humanities as a whole—to emerge from the “vaults” created by COVID-19 as we jointly navigate what we hope and trust is its aftermath. They also demonstrate and underscore our own commitment at Kress to simultaneously support both the return to pre-pandemic norms across the fields to which we are committed and, equally important, the new forms of scholarly and pedagogical engagement that have emerged and flourished during this fraught time.