Ginny Newell honored with the 2024 Craft Leadership Award

April 18, 2024

The Columbia Museum of Art is proud to have presented the 2024 John Richard Craft Leadership Award to Virginia E. Newell (Ginny). The Craft Award, named for the museum’s first director, is the highest honor the CMA bestows.

A dedicated volunteer, passionate museum advocate, and expert art conservator, Newell epitomizes the values the CMA recognizes each year with the Craft Award. Ann Holtschlag, last year’s Craft Award recipient, presented the award to Newell at an elegant appreciation dinner celebrating her service on Wednesday, April 17.

“Few people have given their own personal touch to the CMA as thoughtfully or as literally as Ginny Newell,” says Executive Director Della Watkins. “She has spent decades handling the meticulous conservation and restoration of art in the CMA Collection, all to benefit museum goers and the community at large. We celebrate her devotion to her craft, her profession, and the CMA.”

Newell first connected with the CMA in 1978 as a newcomer to Columbia and became a volunteer in the hopes of meeting people.

“I wanted to give to my community in any way that I could, and the museum was a natural fit for me,” says Newell.

Almost 50 years later, Newell has volunteered at the museum in almost every possible role, including co-chairing galas, serving on the board of trustees, and leading through her service on the building committee and the executive committee.

As owner and chief conservator of ReNewell,Inc., Newell draws on an art history degree from Davidson College and extensive conservation studies in both the United States and Europe. That combined experience sets ReNewell apart as uniquely qualified in conservation problem-solving. Since 1990, Newell has supported the museum in conserving some 40 works of art. Her expertise, hard work, and dedication will be felt within the CMA Collection for generations to come.

Outside of her lab work and museum commitments, Newell hits the trails. She has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, hiked the Inca Trail from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, and walked part of the El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. As Newell now turns to retirement, she looks forward to time with her grandchildren, gardening, and celebrating all that there is in life.

The CMA is grateful to Newell for her tireless work for the museum and her dedication to art conservation.