As consulting curator for the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Nancy Zinn came to her second career in a roundabout way.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Zinn, 58, discovered a love for art history during her undergraduate years at University of Minnesota. The microbiology major added a double major in art history after taking an art history course at her sister’s urging.
“It seemed completely logical at the time,” Zinn said.
After graduating and working several years in medical research, Zinn decided to go to graduate school and earned a Ph.D. in art history from The Ohio State University, with a specialization in northern Renaissance art.
For the past 2 1/2 years, Zinn has worn “many hats” as a curator for the Hagerstown museum. Museum director Rebecca Massie Lane knew Zinn from her 16 years at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, where she worked after earning her doctorate.
While a graduate student at Ohio State, Zinn interned at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She and her husband moved to Maryland in 1994 when she was finishing her dissertation.
With some staffing changes several years ago at the Hagerstown museum, Massie Lane was looking for additional help, and she contacted Zinn.
The original goal was for Zinn to help develop and plan an exhibition program for a one- to two-year period as a part-time contractual employee. The partnership has worked so well that it continues.
Zinn, who also works as a curator for the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, said one of the best things is working with her colleagues at the museum.
She also loves introducing people to the museum, its galleries and artwork, “and to see them discover this for the first time and to realize what an incredible asset, what an incredible collection it really is for this community. That’s really a thrill,” she said.