The Museum of Russian Art Names Smithsonian Specialist as New Director of Operations and Russian Scholar as New Curator


TMORA Doubles Size of Executive Staff and Looks Ahead to Enriched Programming

MINNEAPOLIS (May 12, 2008) – The Board of Trustees of The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) has named Lana Gendlin Brooks its new director of operations and Maria Zavialova its new curator. Brooks comes to TMORA from the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution, where she served as public programs specialist.

Zavialova is an award-winning English/Russian translator, a museum docent with on-site training in the Hermitage and the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, and a college instructor with 20 years of professional experience in university-level teaching and research into the nature of cross-cultural exchange, specifically the Russian-American connection.

“Brooks and Zavialova are incredible additions to our team,” said Judi Dutcher, TMORA president and director. “I’m confident their extensive experience with Russian art and culture, combined with their proven success in leadership roles at major museums, will elevate TMORA’s position as one of the nation’s premier Russian educational and exhibition facilities and prepare us for an exciting new era of exhibitions and programming.”

Brooks brings more than seven years of museum experience to her new role at TMORA. At the Smithsonian, she was responsible for project management, communications and exhibition development. Specifically, she helped implement several large-scale permanent and traveling exhibitions for the Smithsonian, including the 23,000 square foot Ocean Hall, scheduled to open fall 2008; and assisted in increasing the NMNH’s visitation to more than 7 million visitors annually, making it the most visited natural history museum in the world.

“The level of scholarship and quality of design at TMORA is very impressive,” said Brooks. “My goal is to assist Judi Dutcher and the museum reach new levels as we bring our audiences first-rate exhibitions and educational programs, and the highest caliber visitor experience. I am extremely excited about the opportunities for growth at TMORA and look forward to working with the community and staff.”

Intimately familiar with life and culture of the Soviet Union and post-communist Russia, Zavialova has expertise in Russian and Soviet art both as a museum docent and an editor for a Russian arts publishing house. She has played an integral role in United States/Russia cultural exchange projects and her on-going research focuses on international exchange of cultural objects and the misinterpretations and errors that occur when literary texts and art objects travel across borders. She holds an advanced degree in English and comparative studies in discourse and society.

“TMORA’s mission, its staff and volunteers, and its gifted design team make it a real gem among the world’s museums,” said Zavialova. “It is both an honor and a pleasure to join this evolving and successful team.”

Additionally, Misha Dashevsky, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia has been hired on as the new assistant to the president. Dashevsky, whose personal interests align closely with TMORA’s mission, holds a bachelor’s degree in English and art history from the University of Minnesota.

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