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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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WELU, James

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WELU, James. (Dubuque, IA-- ). Director, Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, MA). A graduate of LORAS COLLEGE in 1966, Dr. Welu received his MA and MFA from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. in art history from Boston University. He received honorary degrees from the College of Holy Cross, LORAS COLLEGE, and Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. (1)

Dr. Welu taught at Clark and at the Worcester Art Museum for several years before joining the museum staff as an assistant curator in 1974. He received a Museum Professional Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1976 to do research in the Netherlands on Dutch painting. (2) In 1979 after two years of preparation, a comprehensive exhibit of 17th century Dutch art was arranged for the museum by Welu. Forty works fro eighteen different New England collections were included; most have never been previously displayed. (3) Welu served as the chief curator from 1980 to 1986 before becoming the director. He served in this position for twenty-five years. Welu retained oversight of Old Master paintings and taught on a continuous basis. (4)

A specialist in 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painting and cartography, Welu organized many exhibitions including Judith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World, the first show of the most famous woman artist from Holland’s Golden Age. In 2007 Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague, 1500-1800 was the first exhibition in North America to examine the response of the visual arts to the plague. He lectured widely and wrote such books as 17th Century Dutch Painting: Raising the Curtain on New England, Judith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World, The Collector's Cabinet: Flemish Paintings from New England, and Mask of Mirror. (5)

Welu served as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors and chaired the Accreditation Commission of the American Association of Museums. He was also a member of the advisory council for the art museum at Princeton University and the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame. (6)

James Welu YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pdj6z9yfl5s



1. "James A. Welu," Grant Wood Art Colony, Online: https://grantwood.uiowa.edu/staff/james-welu

2. "Former Dubuquer Welu Compiles Exhibit of 17th Century Dutch Art," Telegraph Herald, October 18, 1979, p. 9

3. Ibid.

4. "Museum to Host Director," Telegraph Herald, January 17, 2012

5. Ibid.

6. "James A. Welu, Director Emeritus, Worchester Art Museum," WGBH Forum Network, Online: http://forum-network.org/speakers/welu-james/