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A chance foray into a ceramics class at Hamilton transformed the intended career path for Mark Castro ’05, director of curatorial affairs at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va.

“When I arrived on the Hill, I was certain I was going to be an archaeologist, and I didn’t want to take classes in any other fields,” he recalled.

Castro vividly remembers an anthropology professor insisting he take introduction to ceramics. “I’m glad I listened because that class awakened my passion for art and led me to look for work in the art world after Hamilton,” he said.

After graduation as a double major in archaeology and studio art, Castro moved to Philadelphia and got a job as an exhibition assistant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA). After it clicked that he wanted to be a curator, he earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in art history at Bryn Mawr College.

Working as a museum curator combined the hands-on qualities of archaeology with a broad engagement with the visual arts — and that was the perfect combination for Castro. At the PMA, he spearheaded his own shows, sometimes solo or with a team.

“One of the most important for me was a show I curated with three colleagues in 2016 — Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950, which traveled from Philadelphia to Mexico City, and later Houston,” he said.

That show helped Castro make a career leap to a position at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2019, and after four years there, he moved on to the Chrysler.

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As director of curatorial affairs, Castro oversees the Collections & Exhibitions, Conservation, and Curatorial teams, who all have a hand in shaping artistic content at the museum. His daily duties involve project and planning meetings, conducting research, and engaging with the museum’s 30,000 objects.

“Although I’ve only been at the Chrysler a matter of months, I’m excited to propose some new exhibitions and acquisitions that I hope will engage our community in new ways,” he said.

Castro said he is interested in a larger role in museum leadership some day.

“Despite the ways in which the institution of museums can be flawed, I believe in the positive role they can play in our culture — especially as we think about the challenges facing our society,” he said.

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