Meet Cameran Mason, the Museum’s new chief development officer.
What is the Museum Council's role in the overall philanthropic mission of the Museum?
A pivotal one! For starters, Museum Council members together contributed nearly half a million dollars in unrestricted support last year alone. That’s remarkable. And, of course, there’s exhibition support via the Museum Council Artist in Residency Program Fund and the Special Exhibition Fund—two key initiatives that allow us to present exhibitions like “Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu,” opening this fall. It’s impressive and important that gifts from Museum Council members directly impact our exhibition program and our general operating budget. Fundamentally, the Museum Council is a place to learn and engage with the life and community of the MFA. I hope for all members it is the start of a lifelong connection that grows with time.
What is your vision for the future of the Council?
With our current roster of young art enthusiasts on the Museum Council, the future is bright. Our goal for the years ahead is to build on the program’s strong foundation in order to continue welcoming new faces into the fold. I think about recent college graduates, those in creative industries, young families—all bringing with them a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. It is our hope that quality programming and community building will instill in Council members a sense of leadership and investment in the life and future of the MFA. If you have feedback or ideas to further this goal, I welcome them! And, if you see me in the galleries or at an event, please say hello!
Of course, before arriving at the MFA, you were vice president for Resources and Public Affairs at Wellesley College, which also happens to be your alma mater. How does working at an art museum compare to working at an academic institution?
After a few weeks at the MFA, I’m struck by the similarities rather than the differences. MFA supporters share the same passion and commitment to the Museum that Wellesley alumnae feel for their alma mater. There is a shared commitment to excellence and to the belief that museums, like institutions of higher education, have both the responsibility and the opportunity to deploy their wealth of resources to reach a broad community. That said, the fundraising constituency for academic institutions is primarily the alumni and parent communities, while the constituency for an art museum is far more varied, which is both a challenge and an opportunity.
What is your favorite object in the collection and why?
It’s so hard to choose my favorite work in the MFA’s collection because I see something new and exciting in the galleries every day. However, if I had to pick one object, I’d point to Alice Neel’s Linda Nochlin and Daisy (1973) for a few reasons. First of all, I love the way that mother and daughter are pictured as a unit, with Nochlin’s arms encircling and protecting—but also foregrounding and presenting—her daughter to the viewer. I also love the bright purple color of Nochlin’s blouse and her yellow T-shirt, perfectly chosen to highlight her daughter’s red hair and her own extraordinary sense of color. For me, the painting is also special because of Nochlin’s role in feminist art history and her recent death. I am saddened that we no longer have the benefit of Nochlin’s sharp eye and clear vision—so beautifully highlighted in this painting.