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October 20, 2020

Five Questions for an ACLS Fellow

Introducing ACLS Leading Edge Fellow: Juliana Barton

a headshot in black and white of a woman with black curly hair smiling and crossing her arms, wearing a black shirt.

Photo courtesy of

Juliana Barton, photo by Sarah Milinski

The Center for Craft is pleased to welcome Juliana Barton (PhD, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania) to our team as an American Council of Learned Society (ACLS) 2020 Leading Edge Fellow. For the next year, Juliana will be working with the Center on her project, "Craft in Virtual Spaces," to develop a portfolio of virtual community engagement initiatives intended to increase the value and relevance of craft to society, with a particular focus on advancing, documenting, and measuring the impact of the Craft Futures Fund.

We wanted to get to know our new team member and understand the steps that brought her to the Center. Read on to learn more about Juliana, her career, research, and more!

Tell us about your favorite learning experience or learning environment.

A few summers ago, I was selected to participate in the Center for Curatorial Leadership’s annual Graduate Seminar in Curatorial Practice where I got to spend two weeks in New York with a group of fellow PhD students visiting museums, exploring exhibitions, and talking with each other and museum professionals about the state of the field(s). The personality assessment we took through the program confirmed that I’m an extrovert who enjoys collaboration. Museum and cultural work relies so heavily on collaboration, so the program offered me an ideal environment to engage with a group of peers as we all began to articulate and refine visions for our work and careers. Peers from that group have become some of my dearest friends, colleagues, and confidantes, people I turn to when I have ideas, questions, or challenges that I want to talk through and work out.

Photo by Isaac James.

So many opportunities and content have moved online since the pandemic. Are there any programs that have stood out to you?

I really enjoyed tuning into the Blackstar Film Festival this past August, which had a really diverse line up of programming including digital and outdoor screenings, virtual parties, and lots of panel discussions. In the before times, films festivals were always events I aspired to go to, but never managed to find the time. Although I miss the communal experience of watching movies in a theater, I was able to participate in much more of the programming in the virtual format.

Designing Motherhood Instagram page

What Instagram or website do you find inspiring right now?

That’s easy - Designing Motherhood (@designingmotherhood on Instagram). I have the great pleasure of working on this project, which is a book, exhibition, and series of public programs next year. But the project really began publicly as an Instagram page run by Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick, my dear friends, collaborators, and the brains behind the project. Michelle and Amber have been sharing incredible stories, objects, and people through Instagram as a way of engaging a growing community in questions about design and the arc of human reproduction.

What program at the Center for Craft stands out to you (and why)?

I’m so incredibly impressed by the Craft Futures Fund. When the shock of the pandemic really started to set in this spring, it was a bit unclear what the effects on the cultural community would be, both in the short and long term. But it was clear that money was going to be tight for artists, makers, and organizations. I really admire how quickly and effectively the Center stepped in and stepped up, offering monthly grants to help support these communities in a time of unprecedented need. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the grant recipients this year!

What do you hope to discover through your work with the Center for Craft?

I’m relatively new to craft, most of my work/research to date looks at architecture and design, so I’m really looking forward to immersing myself in this world. I know there are many connections and overlapping themes/questions/challenges between these areas, and I’m grateful for the change to explore those connections through my work with the Center.

More About Juliana Barton

Juliana Rowen Barton is a historian and curator whose research centers on the confluence of race, gender, and design. Through her work, she strives to make a more equitable museum experience and to reframe perspectives on familiar objects. Born in New York City and raised in Charlottesville, VA, she received her BA in Art History and American Studies with highest distinction from the University of Virginia and her MA and PhD in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania.  She comes from a family of architects and spends her free time in the pottery studio and the kitchen.