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Ben Colman, Curator of American Art at Detroit Institute of Art.

Colman, a native of Albany, New York, has a bachelor’s degree in art history from Yale University, where he later served as the Marcia Brady Tucker Curatorial Fellow in the Department of American Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery. During his time at the gallery he worked with curator Patricia Kane on a landmark study of furniture making in colonial Rhode Island that identified hundreds of previously unknown artisans and documented thousands of pieces of historic furniture in public and private collections around the country. This project culminated in an internet database called the Rhode Island Furniture Archive.

Colman earned a master of arts degree through the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware. His research there looked at the histories of seventeenth-century relics in Plymouth, Massachusetts, as a means of examining the ways communities use antique objects to record and narrate their past..

At the Florence Griswold Museum, Colman worked with a collection of American art spanning the colonial period to the present day that is best known for its Impressionist paintings. He curated exhibitions of American furniture (“Thistles and Crowns: The Painted Chests of the Connecticut Shore,” 2014), folk art (“Art of the Everyman: American Folk Art from the Fenimore Art Museum,” 2014), modernism (“Harry Holtzman and American Abstraction,” 2013), Impressionist painting (“Lyme Artists Abroad,” 2014), marine painting (“All the Sea Knows: Marine Art from the Museum of the City of New York,” 2015), studio craft (“Kari Russell-Pool: Self-Portraits in Glass,” 2014) and contemporary art (“Animal/Vegetable/Mineral,” 2013; “Peter Halley: Big Paintings,” 2015). He is the author of numerous exhibition catalogues and articles on the history of American art and decorative arts.

The Society of American
Period Furniture Makers
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