Dr. Rafael Chacon, Director of the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, will be opening the exhibition, “William Clark and the Art of the Gilded Age,” with the presentation “A Question of Taste: Senator William Clark’s Art Collection.”
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art rejected William A. Clark’s large collection of art upon his death in 1925, forcing the senator to leave it to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in the nation’s Capitol. In addition to the politics of this decision, the rejection begs the question of not only Clark’s social standing but also his aesthetic taste. In his brief introduction to the works in the Clark Collection, Dr. Chacon will assess the merits of the paintings in this exhibition and the significance of the senator’s collection.
Since 2019, H. Rafael Chacón has been the Bruce and Suzanne Crocker Director of the Montana Museum of Art and Culture. Dr. Chacón is also Professor of Art History and Criticism in the School of Visual and Media Arts at the University of Montana where he has taught a range of courses on art history and criticism over the last 25 years. He holds his A.B. in art from Wabash College and received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in art history with honors from the University of Chicago. Just prior to the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Smithsonian Institute named him one of the top ten lecturers in their global travel program.
Dr. Chacon’s academic research lies in American architectural history, historic preservation, and Montana history, especially its visual arts. He has published many articles and books in these areas. His new-found passion, however, is for vexillology, the study of flags, having received the top awards for his research at recent international and national conferences, the Whitney Smith Award for the top paper presented at the International Federation of Vexillological Associations’ Congress in 2019 and the Captain William Driver Award at the North American Vexillological Association Conference in 2016.