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2020-21 UNCF Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute at Tuskegee University: Home

Tuskegee University's Legacy Museum will host a 2020 UNCF/Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute designed to introduce participants to the principles of preservation, safeguarding objects against deterioration, and technical art history, studying objects

Program Overview

Tuskegee University's Legacy Museum will host a 2020 UNCF/Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute designed to introduce participants to the principles of preservation, safeguarding objects against deterioration, and technical art history, studying objects through technical examination. Led by four Yale University conservators, the Institute will examine some of the art, artifacts and ephemeral online content of the present Black Lives Matter Movement and of related objects from the past. The Institute will involve two components: a three-day online intensive (December 2020) and a three-day in-person workshop (Spring 2021).

Our Sponsors

This program is made possible through the generous support of UNCF/Mellon, whose mission is to "aid in the transformation of the Academy through the presence of a racially and ethnically diverse faculty whose scholarship and teaching represent diverse world views, appreciation for issues of social justice and who share a commitment to continuing to develop a pipeline of scholars of color to inhabit the halls of the Academy as students and faculty."  For more information about UNCF/Mellon Programs, staff and partnerships, please visit:


Application Documents

Our Host - Tuskegee University

Dr. Jontyle Robinson, pioneering art historian/curator received her doctoral degree in Art History from the University of Maryland and was the first curator for both the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta and Tuskegee University’s Legacy Museum /Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site. Her groundbreaking research on Archibald Motley at the Chicago History Center resulted in New York City’s Kenkeleba Gallery “Three Masters: Archibald Motley, Eldzier Cortor, and Hughie Lee Smith.” In 1991, the Chicago History Center, mounted "The Art of Archibald John Motley, Jr" from her decade-long research which was, also, the foundation for the Whitney Museum's  exhibition “Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist " on view from October 2015-January 2016. She curated/ co-authored for the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art's contribution to the 1996 Olympics, "Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists,” the first exhibition /catalogue of African American women artists touring America. In 2016, Robinson conceptualized  the Alliance of HBCU Museums & Galleries, a coalition of 11 Historically Black College and University Museums and Galleries. She is Founding Director. 


There are Alliance students/programs at Yale University, Princeton University (two programs), University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum; American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution/Lunder Conservation Center, The Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges, UCLA/Getty, Georgia O’Keefe Museum, SUNY/Buffalo, American Institute for Conservation, the Bard Research Center in Manhattan, Harvard University Art Museums and Wellesley College Davis Museum.


On August 30, 2020 She was featured in a segment regarding students from HBCUs and art conservation on "CBS Sunday Morning." 

The International Review of African American Art (Vol 30 No 1) published her article  August, 2020 "Diversity in Art Conservation: Diverting the Crisis.”

Our Participating Institutions & Mentors

Daniele Gair is the Manager and Registrar of the Xavier University Art Collection. A certified antiques appraiser, Ms. Gair received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in Women’s Studies, from Newcomb College of Tulane University. She is an experienced writer and researcher, beginning with her career in Tulane’s Institutional Advancement Office. Her involvement with the arts began with managing a small gallery post-Hurricane Katrina. This led to a position at M.S. Rau Antiques, where she researched 19th- & 20th-century European fine art, antiques and jewelry, contributed to online and print catalogues and created ads for such publications as the Wall Street Journal. Since joining the Xavier family in 2014, Ms. Gair has catalogued and arranged the conservation and installation of the extensive works featured in the collection. She has worked on major exhibitions at the Xavier University Art Gallery, including Queen: An Exhibition and ICONS: Ideals of Black Masculinity, exhibits of select works from the collection of CCH Pounder. She has also spoken to students about the collection and about the vocation of art collection management. She has written articles for Southeastern Antiquing Magazine and served as co-editor of Nineteenth Century European Painting: From Barbizon to Belle Époque by William Rau. Her writing has also been featured in Walking Raddy: The Baby Dolls of New Orleans by Dr. Kim Vaz-Deville and Phillip Collier’s Making New Orleans.

Johnnie Mae Maberry, Associate Professor of Art and Co-Director for Tougaloo College Institute for the Study of Modern-Day Slavery, is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. She is a graduate of Tougaloo College. She holds a Master of Art Education, and Masters of Fine Arts degree (2-D) from Mississippi College. She also earned the distinguished recognition of becoming Mississippi College's FIRST Masters of Fine Arts graduate, African American Fine Arts graduate, and MC’s 2014 recipient of Distinguish Alumna (Department of Art). Professor Maberry  directed the Tougaloo Art Colony for sixteen years. The Tougaloo Art Colony is the first residential colony on an HBCU campus. A prolific artist, Maberry produces 3-D paintings, drawings, block prints, sculptures, and mixed media compositions. One of her most recent activities include being a contributing artist and panelist  in the HBCU Artist Alliance group show located in Kerala, India (January 2020). The panel topic was “Contextualizing Afro-American Art: Some Reflections.”

Jamaal B. Sheats, MFA is Director and Curator of the Fisk University Galleries and an Assistant Professor in the Fisk University Art Department. An alumni of Fisk, both positions enable Sheats to work with students, faculty, and the community in ways that integrate his expertise and passion for the arts, education, and mentorship. As a member of the Art Department, has taught Sculpture, Arts and Ideas, Drawing, and Independent Study courses for students with an interest in sub-specialties.. In his director and curatorial appointment with the Fisk University Galleries, he successfully integrated the Arts into all academic disciplines and increased engagement with the Middle Tennessee community through novel and innovative approaches. Sheats’ implementation  of multi- and inter- disciplinary programs, such as the Fisk University STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Series, Babies in the Gallery (BIG), Visiting Lecturer Series, and Gallery Ambassador Program for Fisk students and community members, are outcomes of this goal. During Sheats’ 3-year tenure as Director and Curator of the Fisk University Galleries, he has also curated 15  art exhibitions; welcomed over 16,000 visitors from across the globe; created the Fisk University Galleries Fellowship for post-doctoral scholars; and built a continuous pipeline of charitable giving from the annual Friends of the Gallery Campaign that he instituted in 2016. In 2017 Sheats’ led efforts to secure funding from the Ford Foundation and Walton Family Foundation to establish the Fisk University Museum Leadership Program, which is a 2-year certificate program that aims to diversify art museum leadership. In addition to his appointments at Fisk, Sheats founded Sheats Repoussé his art gallery and studio in 2003; as well his art education organization, the Charlotte Art Project, in 2013. Within the arts community Sheats is a well-known and respected artist who has maintained a strong and consistent domestic and international exhibition record for nearly 2 decades. 


Anne Collins Smith is the Curator of Collections at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. She is a cultural curator, art historian, and cultural worker in the literary, visual, and performing arts. Smith received a B.A. in English and Art History from Spelman College and an M.A. in Visual Arts Administration at New York University. She served as an intern at the Cinque Gallery, which was founded by artists Romare Bearden, Ernest Crichlow, and Norman Lewis, and the Romare Bearden Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Smith was the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College where she began to fuse interdicisplinarity with her curatorial practice. At the Davis, she curated the exhibition The Space Between: Artists Engaging Race and Syncretism. Smith’s interests include: arts, the economy, and social uplift; arts leadership; audience development; cosmopolitanism; the evolving role of the curator; material culture; public art; visual culture; and, African Diasporic continuity in artistic and cultural practices. Smith participated in the Art Leaders of Metro Atlanta; Independent Curators International’s Curatorial Intensive; Getty Leadership Institute’s Museum Leaders: The Next Generation; Association of Art Museum Curator’s Mentorship, and the BURNAWAY Art Writers Mentorship programs. Smith recently organized Maren Hassinger . . . Dreaming (2015) and Howardena Pindell (2015). Her curatorial projects in progress include Eye Ten (I10), Real Good Hands, and, Always a Pleasure. She is currently serving on the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Arts Council and on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Art Museum Curators and AAMC Foundation.

Our Yale Participants

Mark Aronson is the Chief Conservator of the Yale Center for British Art and Chair of the Shared Conservation Laboratory at Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.  He is also a critic at the Yale School of Art.  Prior to working at the YCBA, Mark was the Chief Conservator at the Yale University Art Gallery.  He is particularly interested in the history of painting techniques and attitudes toward restoration and conservation. He has presented work on the history of conservation at Yale, the treatment of Italian Renaissance painting, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Bartholomew Dandridge, the Anglo-American artist Benjamin West and the Haitian painter Louis Rigaud. 

Melissa Barton is Curator of Drama and Prose for the Yale Collection of American Literature, which includes the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. At Beinecke Melissa has curated exhibits including “Casting Shadows: Integration on the American Stage,” “Richard Wright’s Native Son on Stage and Screen,” and “Gather Out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance and The Beinecke Library,” which was visited by thousands of people over its three-month run in 2017. Melissa wrote the accompanying catalog Gather Out of Star-Dust: A Harlem Renaissance Album, co-published by Beinecke and Yale University Press. Melissa writes and presents frequently about teaching with collections. Her own research focuses on histories of Black theater and performance, particularly in the first half of the twentieth century. Her scholarship has appeared in TDR and will be included in African American Literature in Transition: 1940-1950, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Yale University and a PhD from the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, “Staging Liberation: Race, Representation, and Forms of American Theater, 1934-1963,” examines the theatrical aesthetics and the multiply inflected political commitments of various theater companies calling themselves “Negro People’s Theatres,” before and during the Civil Rights Era.  While at the University of Chicago, Melissa was a graduate student archivist for the Mapping the Stacks project.  She described "hidden" collections at the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Chicago Defender, the South Side Community Art Center, and the Vivian Harsh Research Collection in the Chicago Public Library.

Tara Kennedy is the Preservation Services Librarian/ Preventive Conservator at Yale University Library. She holds a MLIS and a certificate of advanced studies in Library and Archives Conservation from the University of Texas at Austin, an MS in Forensic Science from the University of New Haven, and a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Northwestern University. Before coming to Yale, she was an intern at the National Archives, and worked at the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives, and the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center/ Nebraska State Historical Society in Omaha, Nebraska. She is a Professional Associate with the American Institute of Conservation (AIC). She is an active member of the AIC National Heritage Responders, a group of conservators that specialize in emergency preparedness and response. She is co-chair of the National Heritage Responders Working Group, and chair of the AIC Health and Safety Network. She also consults as a private conservator helping small to mid-sized institutions with preventive and collections care plans.

Marie-France Lemay received a Master of Sciences and Techniques of Conservation of Cultural Property from the Université Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne specializing in paper conservation. She holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Quebec in Montreal. She has been working as a paper and photographs conservator for Yale University Library’s Center for Preservation and Conservation since 2006.  Prior to her current position at Yale, she worked as a paper conservator for the Canadian Center for Architecture and a photographs conservator for the National Gallery of Canada. Marie-France has a strong interest in issues related to the effects of light on collection materials and the preventive measures that can be utilized to prevent excessive exposure of special collections during exhibits. She also studies inks, dyes, and pigments used in early and early modern manuscripts through research and re-creation of historical ink and pigment recipes and the scientific analysis of manuscripts. She regularly lectures on the material culture of manuscripts at Yale and for Rare Book School. She is a co-author, with her conservation colleagues, of The Traveling Scriptorium, a teaching kit on the material culture of manuscripts.  

Christine McCarthy is the Director of Preservation & Conservation Services for the Yale University Library. She oversees a program that includes general and special collections conservation, preventative conservation, print and audio-visual reformatting, digital photography, exhibitions preparation, and digital preservation. Christine’s work as a professional conservator has been focused on academic research library collections. From 2000-2003 she managed the conservation laboratory for the University of Maryland Libraries. In 2003, Christine became the MIT Libraries’ first conservation for rare books and special collections, setting up their laboratory and designing this new aspect of their preservation program. From 2006 to January of 2008, Christine served as the head of conservation for the University of Chicago Library, where she once again started a new program, hired and trained conservation technicians, and worked with architects to design a new state-of-the-art conservation lab as part of a planned new library addition. Christine served as the chief conservator for the Yale Library from 2008 until July of 2017, when she was appointed department director. While at Yale she oversaw the design the Stephen F. Gates '68 Conservation Laboratory. She actively promotes preservation and conservation expertise in service of teaching and learning at Yale. Christine began her conservation career at Brandeis University in 1992 as a conservation technician. She earned a Master of Library and Information Science and an Advanced Certificate in Conservation in 2000.

Cynthia Schwarz, Senior Associate Conservator of Paintings at the Yale University Art Gallery, studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and painting conservation at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. Before joining the staff at the Gallery in 2008, she held internships at the Balboa Art Conservation Center, in San Diego, and the Château de Parentignat, in Auvergne, France. She focuses her efforts on the conservation of the Gallery’s modern and contemporary paintings collection and has published research on works in the collection by Amedeo Modigliani, Francis Picabia, and Hedda Sterne. She also has extensive experience in the conservation of American mural paintings and the structural treatment of canvas paintings. She lectures for the Technical Examination of Art course in the Department of the History of Art and co-organizes the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Students and Mentors Institute in Technical Art History, both at Yale.


Paula Zyats is the Assistant Chief Conservator for Special Collections at Yale University Libraries where she has worked for the past 15 years.  In that time, she has been privileged to work on rare items from numerous special collections within the Library, including the Voynich Manuscript, the Vinland Map, and the Beinecke Library’s collection of rare Portolan Charts. She has made presentations about the history and treatment of rare materials at numerous venues, nationally and internationally. As part of her work, she also trained conservation interns from West Dean College in England, Winterthur/University of Delaware, and Buffalo State University. She received an undergraduate degree in fine arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a graduate degree in science and art conservation from the Winterthur Museum/ University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.  She completed internships at the Library of Congress, Firestone Library at Princeton, Columbia University’s Butler Library, and the Folger Shakespeare Library, as well as an NEH Fellowship at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia.  She worked as Rare Books and Manuscripts Conservator at CCAHA before coming to Yale, specializing in manuscripts on parchment, as well as rare books. Paula is a Professional Member of the American Institute for Conservation and a member of IADA, the International Association of Book and Paper Restorers.  She has taught workshops for K-12 students in the New Haven public schools.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities