UW Names Executive Director of New Neltje Center for the Arts

head photo of a woman
Beth Venn

An arts leader, curator and writer with expertise in American modernism and contemporary arts and culture has been chosen to lead the University of Wyoming’s new center for the arts and humanities.

Beth Venn will begin her work as executive director of UW’s Neltje Center for Excellence in Creativity and the Arts June 1. Most recently, she served as the founding executive director of KinoSaito, a multidisciplinary art center and artist residency program in the lower Hudson Valley, N.Y.

“The Neltje Center is poised to contribute to and advance the arts and creative economy in Wyoming and beyond,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “Beth’s deep and wide experiences in the arts are just what UW needs to enhance its contributions to the arts through the Neltje Center.”

UW’s new center is named after Neltje, a renowned painter and philanthropist who, in 2001, founded the Jentel Artist Residency Program, located in Sheridan County near the Big Horn Mountains. Neltje, who died in 2021, bequeathed a major estate gift to UW. The Neltje Center is an initiative within UW’s College of Arts and Sciences engaged in instruction, creative activity, research, collaboration and related service.

“We are so pleased to have Beth Venn join us in this new position. She brings a wealth of experience and ideas needed to bring the Neltje Center to the next level,” says Scott Turpen, the interim dean of UW’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Beth has a deep understanding of working closely with communities and will be a real asset to the arts and humanities in Wyoming.”

The Neltje Center provides a platform to link higher education with the arts and humanities in one of the most scenic locations in the country.

“I am thrilled to lead this new initiative that will expand creative opportunities for students and faculty, build strong partnerships across communities and disciplines, and advance Neltje’s legacy of providing time and space for artists of all types to thrive,” Venn says. “The potential of the Neltje Center to foster a robust creative ecosystem is great, and I look forward to ensuring its success.”

Venn’s career also includes service as a senior curator at the Newark Museum of Art, and she has held curatorial positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has consulted for museums, performing art centers and public libraries on strategic planning and program development, and she advises community-based arts nonprofit organizations.

A native of northern Illinois, Venn received her bachelor’s degree in art history at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. After relocating to the Northeast, she completed a master’s degree in art history at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. She has lived and worked in the New York City region for the past 25 years.

While Venn starts her work at UW June 1, she will be in Sheridan Saturday, May 20, for a public event and reading featuring poet and essayist Gretel Ehrlich.

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