Many of Louisville’s local museums and galleries have been undergoing change in recent months, so starting with the Carnegie Center for Art and History, we at LEO Weekly are presenting a peek behind the curtains of our local institutions of art.
Eileen Yanoviak is the new director at the Carnegie Center (carnegiecenter.org) after the retirement of longtime director Sally Newkirk. Yanoviak is a museum professional and educator who received her doctorate in Art History from UofL in 2017. Her areas of expertise are 19th-century American landscape painting, environmental history, American studies and museum studies.
LEO: Let’s start off with how you say the name of this organization? CAR-na-ghee or car-NAY-ghee?
Eileen Yanoviak: CAR-na-ghee. No one has broached this subject!. You know, the times I’ve heard it as car-NAY-ghee is as his name [philanthropist Andrew Carnegie] on NPR. That’s interesting, it never registered with me. I’ve got to research that.
What’s your background? I’m interested in the journey of how you got to the Carnegie Center.
I’m an exhibition and collection [manager], fundraiser and educator. I’m interested in both art history and the business of art. As a little kid, I knew I loved art history — it’s a pursuit of passion. I’ve worked at the Speed Art Museum and KMAC Museum. At the Speed, I did two roles, one as a fundraiser, mainly responsible for membership, and another as the exhibition and project coordinator during the expansion and renovation. At KMAC, I was the exhibition and collection manager. And I curated a show at Zephyr Gallery, “PROJECT 17: Ritual Geography.” I’ve done a little bit of everything. I’ve also taught, 11 years total, about 10 years at University of Arkansas at Little Rock and one year at UofL. I hope to teach again, but the museum is my first focus, and will always be my ultimate goal.
What does the Carnegie do well?
It’s so unique, this combination of art and history, and you don’t get that combination in other institutions. Also the contemporary art program is so strong, I’m going to continue that. I think the permanent Underground Railroad exhibition is important and is the anchor of the Carnegie and is something we are known for. We will certainly keep that and will build new programming around it to keep it fresh.
What do you hope to add to or change?
We want to build a more robust education program. We have an opportunity for growth, to make a mark in Southern Indiana. Also [to do] a more formalized approach, to working with the schools and youth. One aspect that we can add to is, we are in this amazing architecture, this piece of architectural history. I would like to focus … on that more in the future. One area where the Carnegie, and many other arts organizations, must focus on is serving a more diverse audience. The future is dependent on us embracing and engaging all people. That is an enormous task without easy answers. It means turning a critical eye on our operations to identify the barriers, while working with the community to find opportunities for growth.
Is Southern Indiana’s art scene part of the art community of Greater Louisville? Does it get its due?
Absolutely. And I want to build that Louisville audience. I think [Southern Indiana is both] a destination and part of Louisville. I almost think of it really, in some ways, as a neighborhood of Louisville. Now, Southern Indiana would want to keep its identity, and I think that’s important too, but, at the same time, I want to reach as many people as we can.
How do you plan to do that?
I think its representation at the table. The more we can be included in the press, the more we’re included [in organizations like] the Fund for the Arts … in those kinds of initiatives. I also think it is about getting the artists to come here. They help make us cool. It is my responsibility to be an advocate for the arts in Southern Indiana. What I have found incredible is the local pride for this institution. It’s a healthy institution with a lot of community support. I want to leverage that kind of enthusiasm by using my personal relationships to get Louisville audiences more invested.