For Elizabeth Courtney Keto, a Harvard College senior, museum curation is more than just a profession or a hobby. It’s a way for people around the world to connect. Soon she’ll have the opportunity to expand her passion for art history and curation, as one of only 43 Marshall Scholars selected for 2018.
“I was speechless when I found out,” she said. “But the chair of my panel was so kind. He said most people are speechless when they are informed. I was really stunned. It’s a great honor.”
Keto, a Quincy House resident with a concentration in history of art and architecture, plans to complete two master’s degrees while studying in England on the Marshall, one in art history and the other in curating at art museums. She is particularly excited about studying at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
“It has been a dream of mine to go there, so the Marshall Scholarship making this possible is really a dream come true.”
Ultimately, she hopes to make art museums serve as engines for bringing together people from different backgrounds. Keto wants to return to the U.S. after completing her studies to help museums here become more representative of the diverse backgrounds and identities of today’s artists.
“I’m interested in how we can make museums more equally representative in terms of contributors. Curating modern and contemporary art is a way to write that next draft of history and hopefully have it be more inclusive than previous versions have been, and I really want to be a part of that,” she said. “I consider the work of curating to be a form of cultural diplomacy. The art world is international, and art and museums can really inform how we relate to our neighbors around the world.”
Keto credited the mentorship of Sarah Lewis, assistant professor of the history of art and architecture, who herself was a Marshall Scholar, as well as the resident tutors in Quincy House, with helping her win the scholarship.
“The advising team and fellowship tutors have been incredible, and the relationships I have developed with them have been really helpful,” Keto said.
In announcing the awards, Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the U.S., said, “I’m proud to congratulate the recipients of this year’s Marshall Scholarship, who represent the brightest young minds and leaders the U.S. has to offer.” He added, “For over six decades, the Marshall Scholarship has played an important part in maintaining the strong bonds of friendship between our two countries.”