First Woman and GC Alumna to Lead The New York Botanical Garden

March 12, 2018

Carrie Rebora Barratt (Ph.D. '90, Art History), moves from the largest museum in the U.S. to "a living museum of plants."


Carrie Rebora Barratt (Ph.D. ’90, Art History), an art scholar and administrator, will become the first woman to lead The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), the largest botanical garden in any city in the United States and a leader in plant research and conservation. She joins NYBG, which is known as “a living museum of plants,” from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she most recently served as deputy director for collections and administration. Her scholarship, executive leadership, and museum management were cited by NYBG’s board chair, who called her “uniquely qualified to assume the reigns.” Barratt’s selection is the first leadership change for the NYBG in 29 years. She will officially begin on July 1.
Barratt began her career at the Met in 1984 as a summer intern and research assistant. She went on to be named coordinator of American Wing documentation and then curator of American paintings and sculpture and manager of the Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art. As deputy director for collections and administration, she has served as the director’s liaison to the museum’s core departments, including curatorial, conservation, editorial, and digital media, which she created in 2010. She is the author of many articles and books and has lectured extensively, including as a visiting professor at The Graduate Center and as a guest on the Colbert Report. Her short talks on American art have gotten thousands of views on YouTube, leading one inspired viewer to comment, “I could listen to her interpret American art for hours.”
NYBG, which is located in the Bronx, was founded in 1891 and is a National Historic Landmark. Welcoming more than one million visitors a year, the NYBG is also a major educational and research institution with close ties to The Graduate Center. All curators at the garden are members of The Graduate Center’s Biology doctoral program in plant sciences, the most comprehensive of its kind in the New York area. Approximately 70 Graduate Center students have graduated from NYBG’s labs.
In addition, as part of the GC’s Early Research Initiative, two doctoral students have been selected each of the past two summers (and continuing this summer) for internships at the Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library, one of the largest botanical research libraries in the world. Students from Art History, Comparative Literature, History, Anthropology, and English have the opportunity to work closely with curators and archivists and they then deliver a paper on their work at the end of the summer.

Photo: Courtesy of NYBG