Centristi at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Christine Kondoleon with intern Isabel Zinman (left) and graduate research intern Rachel Patt (right) in the Art of the Ancient World Department Office/Library.

While getting to know each other over lunch in the Art of the Ancient World curatorial office at the MFA, intern Isabel Zinman and graduate research intern Rachel Patt excitedly realized that they both studied abroad at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome. From across the table, Lydia Herring-Harrington, another graduate research intern, chimed in that she, too, studied at the Centro. In the midst of the three exchanging stories, Christine Kondoleon, the senior curator of Greek and Roman Art at the MFA, smiled and joined in the conversation. She informed the three that she too was a Centrista (’72), and in fact currently serves on the Centro advisory board among other distinguished alumni.

Christine was appointed the George D. and Margo Behrakis Senior Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the MFA in 2001. Since working at the MFA, Christine has been responsible for bringing to life the major exhibition “Games for the Gods: The Greek Athelete and the Olympic Spirit” (2004). The next big exhibition of Classical art at the museum will be “Aphrodite and the Gods of Love,” on view between October 26th 2011 and February 20th 2012. (All are encouraged to come!) Prior to joining the MFA, Christine served as the Curator of Greek and Roman Art at The Worcester Art Museum starting in 1995. There, she put together the exhibition “Antioch: The Lost Ancient City” in 2000. From 1994-1995 she was the Chair of the Art Department at Williams College, where she was an Associate Professor of Art from 1982-1995. Christine is an inspiration to all for her innumerable contributions, devotion to the field of Classics, and eagerness to share our findings through the world through Museum work. She has certainly carried the Centro’s inviting academic atmosphere to all the interns in her department at the MFA.


Meet the MFA  Centristi

Isabel Zinman is a Dean’s List senior at Cornell and expects to graduate in the spring of 2012 with a B.A. in Classics and the History of Art. She headed overseas to the Centro for the fall semester of 2010.  A special thanks goes out to her professor and Abroad Advisor, Professor Michael Fontaine (Centrista ‘97), for his guidance and support, and for the gelato on the Spanish steps when he stopped by Rome last September. At the Centro, in addition to the Ancient City course, Isabel studied Advanced Greek under Professor Adam Serfass from Kenyon College, and Baroque and Renaissance Art History with the legendary Professor Paul Tegmeyer. She enjoyed frequent Roxy Bar espresso breaks, Pina’s cooking, and the company of her two socii, Nerva and Galba.  After returning from the Centro, Isabel applied for a summer internship posted on the internet for the Art of the Ancient World Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, a museum she had visited countless times while growing up in the Boston area. Her dream came true when in mid-April she was offered the job at the MFA.  Isabel’s hard work under her absolutely amazing Ancient City professors paid off, for when she had the opportunity to study the MFA’s Classical collection, she could contextualize almost every object.

Rachel Patt attended the Centro in the fall of 2007. She received her B.A. in Classics in 2009 from Stanford University and her M.A. in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2011, where she studied Classical and Byzantine art. She found out about the MFA internship online while looking for jobs, and was delighted to have found a museum opportunity that specifically focused on ancient art. She will be at the museum through December 2011 researching their ancient gems collection and helping with the “Aphrodite and the Gods of Love” exhibit while applying to programs for a Ph.D. in Classical art history. Rachel had previously worked on a gems show, “Carvers and Collectors,” at the Getty Villa in Malibu. The internship at the MFA gives her an opportunity to deepen her exposure to and understanding of the medium by giving her access to the best gems collection in the country, numbering around 600. Rachel has found the exposure the Centro gave her through its numerous field trips to all kinds of monuments and art collections has been extremely advantageous in her studies since her semester in Rome, and still considers it the best semester of her college experience. Among her many Centro memories are the thrill of climbing up the spiral staircase inside of Trajan’s Column to be rewarded with an outstanding view of the Forum and Piazza Venezia at the top, surviving the utterly torrential deluge that marked the outing in Pompeii, and, of, course, the moment when Professor Roman identified a genitive of very expensive vodka in her Lysias class.

Lydia Herring-Harrington attended the Centro in the spring of 2000, a Great Jubilee year, and she enjoyed visiting all of the sites that were freshly maintained and open for the occasion. Other favorite memories include the obelisk walk around Rome on the second day of the program; watching a group of students pick up and move a small car out of the way of the bus on a narrow curve; and, of course, the trips to Pompeii and Herculaneum, where she developed an abiding interest in the domestic and other small-scale shrines. After her return, Lydia graduated from Bowdoin College in 2001, and she just finished her Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Michigan in April 2011. Lydia began interning at the MFA as part of the Museum Studies Certificate Program at Michigan, and has been researching the ancient engraved gemstones in addition to contributing to various ongoing projects. It has been a valuable experience for hands-on research and the opportunity to participate in the workings of a large museum. She hopes to continue exploring the ancient world in a museum context. Her visits to numerous museums while at the Centro inspired an appreciation for the variety of ways to display objects in museums and the different stories that they can tell.


Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies, 9002 Chimney Rock, G-243, Houston, TX 77096   713.398.6503 Fax: 713.728.0311  Roma:  Centro Interuniversitario per Studi Classici  Via A. Algardi, 19 00152 Roma, Italia  Tel 06-58.17.036 Fax 06-58.09.306  email info@iccsgiving.org