Deede Tonelli

Cape Cod Art  /  Annual Art 2014 / ,

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

Edith (Deede) Tonelli’s resume has the kind of provenance that makes an institution proud, and the Cape Cod Museum of Art’s board of directors was thrilled to find she was interested in stepping in as the museum’s new director. “Our search was global, but the most qualified, and the strongest vision matching ours, was right in our back yard,” said Jerry Garnick, chair of the museum’s search committee.“ Deede, who lives in West Barnstable has tremendous knowledge of how to run a museum. She is very well versed on the issues that are going to be facing the museum in the coming years. She also has knowledge of art both on and off the Cape and previous experience as the director of a museum. Lastly, her educational background is superb. She is the total package!”

Deede Tonelli

Tonelli’s background includes a Bachelor of Arts in American History and Culture from Vassar College and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking from Hunter College at the City University of New York. She earned her Ph.D. in American and New England Studies at Boston University. She also has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Art Therapy from Antioch University in Los Angeles.

Tonelli began her museum career as the curator at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA. During her two years there, she helped develop the sculpture park that is so central to the DeCordova’s reputation. From there, she went to the University of Maryland in College Park, MD, serving as director of the university’s Art Gallery, director of the Museum Studies Program, and assistant professor in the art department for three years.

From 1982 to 1991, Tonelli was the director of the Wight Art Museum (now the Armand Hammer Museum) at the University of California, Los Angeles. During her tenure, she was responsible for all administrative, curatorial, and educational programs related to exhibitions and collections, including the four-acre Franklin Murphy Sculpture Garden. While at UCLA, she was also an assistant professor in art history and taught nonprofit management courses at the Anderson School of Management.

A prolific artist since moving to the Cape in 2000, Tonelli is known for her beautiful Chinese brush paintings, which may be seen at the Tonelli Arts Gallery, which she owns and operates in West Barnstable. (The gallery will now be open by appointment only.) Her work has been shown in many exhibitions on and off the Cape.

“I am grateful and very honored to have been chosen to lead this wonderful institution into its next—and I think—most exciting, phase,” Tonelli says. “Thanks to the dedication of those now on board with the museum, we can look ahead to an amazing 35th anniversary in just two years.”

One of the first things Tonelli hopes to do is to develop a strategic plan for the museum. Her goals include national accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums; an active and engaged membership; increased visibility to all audiences; the complete documentation and publication of the museum’s permanent collection; the creation of exhibitions that can travel to other institutions throughout the country; and strengthening the endowment fund to help ensure the museum’s ongoing financial stability.

“This dream I have for the museum cannot be accomplished without support from every part of Cape Cod and the Islands,” says Tonelli. “We have been entrusted with a precious legacy of artwork which we all must support—to honor the past and to pass on to our children. I am very lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with this great institution, this fine collection, and everyone associated with the museum.”

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