Museum Leader, Curator, Art Historian

Musée Rodin, Paris. 2009.

Musée Rodin, Paris. 2009.


Claire Kovacs is the Director of the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. Kovacs obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Case Western Reserve University – all in art history. She curated exhibitions at the Figge Art Museum, Coe College, and the Krasl Art Center, in addition to her work at Augustana. Her strategies for programming and exhibitions at Augustana emphasize the ways that academic museums explore contemporary issues, foster interdisciplinary inquiry, create space for a multiplicity of voices and perspectives, and function as a site of dynamic community engagement. She emphasizes intersectional equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion in the ATMA’s collections, exhibitions, and programming. Her research practice grapples with ways that art historical research can support ‘The Common Good’ (to borrow a phrase from the NEH), using curatorial practice and writing as a mechanism by which to amplify under-told stories. 

She participated in the 2018 Getty Leadership Institute’s NextGen program, as well as the NEH/Newberry Library Summer Institute on Art and Public Culture in Chicago. She co-hosted The Gallery Gap, a WVIK podcast that examines in/equity in museum exhibitions, programs, and collections.

Current projects focus on the work of the SisterSerpents, a feminist collective active in Chicago (and beyond) between 1989-1998, and two projects on the Young Lords in Chicago: an exhibition of the visual culture and ephemera of the organization in Chicago and a project that looks at a project where the Young Lords and other community groups teamed up to propose new low-income housing in the rapidly changing cityscape of Lincoln Park, Chicago in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Outside of her interests in art, Kovacs is an avid gardener (from starting seeds to turning her front yard into a perennial food + native plant oasis), cook (she makes a mean pot o' greens), baker (she is currently working her way through Stanley Ginsberg's The Rye Baker), and fermenter (pickles, sauerkraut, cheese, and wine, but never onions – ask her about that failure). She is an avid reader, and her years of looking out windows in the pauses of her writing developed into a bit of a bird watching habit.  She is also committed to justice in the world, in all its forms.

Twitter + Instagram: @kiddicoblr