Carolyn Swan Needell


—Curator specializes in ancient and modern art, brings scholarly and practical experience—

The Chrysler Museum of Art is pleased to welcome Carolyn Swan Needell, Ph.D., as the Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass. Swan Needell is an expert in ancient and modern glass and also holds valuable glassblowing and casting experience that pairs well with the Chrysler Museum’s Perry Glass Studio.

Posted 15 February 2018

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“Carolyn brings remarkable breadth to the Chrysler. Her international perspective will enhance our wonderful curatorial team. Her deep knowledge of ancient, Islamic and modern glass will allow the Museum to continue to connect with audiences in innovative and insightful ways,” said Chrysler Museum Director Erik Neil.
Swan Needell notes that her practical experience with glassblowing and casting has given her valuable understanding of the possibilities of glass.  As she reflects on her own studio experience, she looks forward to working with the Perry Glass Studio and values the demonstrations and classes that the Glass Studio provides.
She is especially impressed by the Chrysler’s amazing holdings of modern glass, including the recent acquisitions of works by Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová. “I am passionate about all aspects of glass — from its materiality to its artistry and from ancient objects to contemporary works of art. The opportunity to work in an environment with a comprehensive and significant collection of glass as well as a user-based studio will be an absolute delight,” said Swan Needell.
Swan Needell has specialized in the study of glass for nearly 15 years. She holds a doctorate from Brown University, master’s degrees from the University of Leicester and University College London and a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College.
“I am delighted that Dr. Swan Needell is joining the Chrysler team as Barry Curator of Glass.  Her expertise and skills will be tremendous assets to the Museum and community. I look forward to her extraordinary work with the Chrysler’s collection as well as her plans to bring exciting exhibitions of glass to the Chrysler community,” said Lloyd DeWitt, Ph.D., Chief Curator of the Chrysler Museum.
Swan Needell recently completed a fellowship at University College London, Qatar on glass in the medieval Middle East, which was also the topic of her dissertation at Brown University. She has worked in museums at the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard University and Dartmouth College, where some of her focus was on modern and contemporary art.  She has presented lectures at conferences held nationally and abroad, including Warsaw, Abu Dhabi and London. With more than a decade of teaching experience in ancient and modern art, Swan Needell has held positions at Brown University, Colby College and the University of Maine at Orono. 
“I look forward to using my knowledge of glass — combined with my experience as an educator, art historian and archaeologist —to bring objects to life in a meaningful, creative way that engages with the public and supports their exploration of the fascinating nature and history of glass,” said Swan Needell.
One of Swan Needell’s central curatorial visions is to engage audiences of all interests and abilities. She is excited to combine her scholarly experience and practical expertise to further the Chrysler’s mission to enrich and transform people’s lives through art at both the Museum and Perry Glass Studio. Swan Needell will join the Chrysler Museum team in April.
The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of the Chrysler’s collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum. The Museum, expanded in 2014 to add additional gallery spaces and amenities for visitors, now has growing collections in many areas and mounts an ambitious schedule of visiting exhibitions and educational programs each season. The Chrysler has also been recognized nationally for its unique commitment to hospitality with its innovative gallery host program.
The Perry Glass Studio is a state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. The studio offers programming for aspiring and master artists alike in a variety of processes including glassblowing, fusing, flameworking, coldworking and neon. The studio has also cultivated a reputation for its cutting-edge performance evenings, and was the host venue of the 2017 Glass Arts Society Conference.
In addition, the Chrysler Museum of Art administers two historic houses in downtown Norfolk: the Moses Myers House and the Willoughby-Baylor House, as well as the Jean Outland Chrysler Library on the campus of Old Dominion University. General admission is free at all venues. For more information on the Chrysler Museum of Art, visit

One Memorial Place
Norfolk, Virginia, 23510, United States
+1 (757) 664-6200

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