The Center for Art in Wood comprises the Gerry Lenfest Gallery for changing exhibitions, the permanent collection, The Fleur & Charles Bresler Research Library, the Len Scherock Museum Store, and The Earl Powell Artist Research Files. It also organizes arts residencies, which are held on an annual basis, and The Wood Shed, a virtual site for accessing programs, talks, activities, and information.
Since its inception in 1986, the Center for Art in Wood (formerly the Wood Turning Center) has been widely recognized by artists, collectors, scholars, and the public as a critical resource for the study of art, craft, and design in the material of wood. Emerging from biannual symposia and exhibitions held between 1976 and 1986, the Center serves an international community as well as its home city of Philadelphia and environs. Under the leadership of founding Director Emeritus Albert LeCoff—a studio woodturner in his own right—the Center supported and documented the developing field of woodturning as a tool for artistic expression as well as artisanal production.
In its location in Old City, the Center offers free admission to its changing exhibitions and access to its permanent collection, which now numbers some 1,200 objects and includes turned objects, sculpture, studio furniture, works on paper, video, and more. One of the most extensive institutional collections of contemporary art in wood, the collection serves as a growing document of this field. The Center’s research library consists of over 25,000 images, artist files, and books that chart the history of wood turning and woodworking and their continuing evolution within the broader field of contemporary art.
The Center’s Windgate international arts residency program marks its twenty-fifth year in 2020. Held annually, the residency program has welcomed over 160 artists, as well as dozens of scholars and documentary artists who capture the experience while developing their own body of work. In 2021, the Center inaugurates a winter residency in partnership with Nextfab.
From the first exhibition Turned Object Show in 1981, which was documented in A Gallery of Turned Objects, to the major publication Emil Milan: Midcentury Master, the Center has maintained a commitment to the documentation of its programs and research. These efforts have taken shape in many forms, from books to digital media and online resources that are available to the public. Visit our publications page, here.
The Center’s focus is aimed at fostering appreciation for art, craft, and design in wood and at creating a space for the public to learn, enjoy, and be inspired.
Jennifer-Navva Milliken is the artistic leader of the Center and is responsible for creating and executing the exhibition schedule, facilitating the annual Windgate ITE International Residency program, maintaining the integrity of the museum collection and research library, and overseeing the Center's publishing and documentation activities.
Before coming to the Center in May 2018, she worked as an independent curator and consultant, following her tenure as the Curator of Craft and Design and the interim curatorial director at the Bellevue Arts Museum [BAM]. Before joining BAM, she established INTER ALIA projects, a curatorial enterprise based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and New York, NY. INTER ALIA fostered dialogues surrounding contemporary art, studio craft, design, and new media through site-specific pop-up exhibitions, gallery programming, writing, and advocacy for artists practicing in these fields. Milliken has lived in several locales including Jerusalem, New York, Seoul, and Tel Aviv. In addition to her time at BAM, she has been an embedded staff member at a number of cultural institutions and museums, among them the Museum of Arts & Design (MAD), New York, and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
She serves on the board of the Furniture Society and CraftNOW PHL and is a member of the International Council of Museums. Milliken remains in demand as a lecturer and writer due to her expertise in contemporary craft and design. She authored the exhibition catalogues The New Frontier: Young Designer-Makers in the Pacific Northwest (Bellevue Arts Museum, 2015) and WHY WOOD? Contemporary Practice in a Timeless Material (Collectors of Wood Art, 2016), as well as Humaira Abid: Taboo, which was released in 2018 in conjunction with the traveling exhibition Humaira Abid: Searching for Home — on view at the Center for Art in Wood.
Fred supervises the Center’s administrative, development and communications staff, is the human resources manager, drafts and manages the budget, and oversees day-to-day administrative tasks. He has worked for a number of non-profit arts organizations as senior management in varying disciplines–music, theater, and arts education to name a few. He has spent over two decades engaged in capacity building, strategic and financial planning, and stewardship of institutional funding and private sources of support. He is also currently an online Adjunct Instructor for Drexel University’s Arts Administration and Museum Leadership graduate programs.
Karen brings more than twenty-eight years of collection management experience to the Center. She has worked for several notable arts and cultural organizations including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, The Rosenbach, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Karen works closely with the Artistic Director, catalogs collection objects, oversees conservation, collection storage, and research requests, manages touring exhibitions, maintains the library and archival records, and is the exhibition coordinator for exhibiting artists and for the Windgate ITE Fellows.
Katie brings creativity and a proven track record from her experience as a Center volunteer and staff and from her previous work as Program Director at The Eisner American Museum of Advertising & Design. In her current role, she is responsible for community outreach, membership and donor relations, public programs, special events, and public relations.
Sarah is a versatile illustrator, graphic designer, and mixed media artist. Sarah has served as a designer for non-profit organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area including WHYY, the Wharton Esherick Museum, the Science History Institute, and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Sarah is currently the Center's resident graphic designer for all print, online, and program-related materials. She is also is the webmaster for the Center’s main website and the creator and webmaster of the Center's micro-site, The Wood Shed. More of Sarah’s design work can be seen here: sarahkaizar.com
Sam joined the Center in 2019 as a Visitor Services Associate, and has since taken on an additional role as social media specialist. When he’s not guiding exhibition tours, ringing up customers at the front desk, or posting orangutan videos on the Center’s Instagram, Sam is probably doing homework for his classes at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, where he’s one semester away from earning a BA in Art History.