A Future Clear as Glass

by Tim Froberg

Finding the right career can be incredibly difficult for a young person.

For Amy Moorefield, though, the decision came easy. She knew all along she wanted to pursue a career in art – a field she was drawn to as a child. She loved to draw and put together elaborate art projects. Museums fascinated her.

Moorefield never lost that passion and has made a career in the industry and is now settling into her position as executive director of the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass.

“I’ve wanted to work in museums since I was 7 and I’ve always had an affinity for fine art,” said Moorefield. “I love the stories that objects can tell, and that magic moment people can have from an experience with an exhibition or a program.”

Moorefield has a wealth of intriguing art to curate at her new gig in Neenah. The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass is an accredited museum that opened in 1959. It offers exhibitions and educational programs on glass and is best known for housing the world’s most formidable collection of paperweights. It also features three additional glass collections including Victorian art glass, contemporary studio glass, and antique Germanic drinking vessels. Thanks to current donors and generous founders, there is no admission charge.

Moorefield has a deep, diversified background in the industry with more than two decades of experience with nonprofit and academic museums. She worked primarily as a curator and director but has dabbled in practically every aspect from fundraising and instructing to marketing.

Moorefield holds a bachelor’s degree in art history and museums studies from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s degree in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to starting her current position in September, Moorefield worked as director of the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She previously served as Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia and was director and chief curator of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University in Hollins, Virginia. She also served in a variety of roles, including curator and director, at Anderson Gallery on the Virginia Commonwealth campus.

So what brought her to Neenah?

“It’s a community museum and it’s admission-free – those are really important things for me,” Moorefield said. “It’s located by a beautiful park and the fact that its focus is on exclusively one medium of glass was very attractive.

“The ability to really focus on the magic of glass is a wonderful opportunity. Glass itself is so cool. It takes intense heat to make it. There is this amazing, magical, transformative moment in seeing how it’s done. That’s a great story to communicate with the public.”

A native of Newport, Rhode Island, Moorefield is experiencing Wisconsin for the first time and loving it. She and her family enjoy the outdoors and have quickly embraced the area’s recreational opportunities.

“My son is a fly fisherman and once we moved here, he was fishing practically every night,” Moorefield said. “And my daughter and I bike the Trestle Trail a lot. I remember when I first got here and opened the curtain in the hotel room. I had a great view of the Fox River and I had always wanted to get back to a community near the water. I fell in love.”

Moorefield succeeds Jan Smith as leader of the museum. Smith retired from the position after nearly 25 years.

“Jan did a wonderful job,” said Moorefield. “I feel so lucky with everything she’s done to move this museum forward. My main goal for the future is really imbedding the museum more into the community.”