Placed Leaders

Elizabeth Dospel Williams

Penny Vinik Chair of Fashion, Textiles, and Jewelry

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Koya partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on the search for their Penny Vinik Chair of Fashion, Textiles, and Jewelry. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is one of the world’s great art museums with masterpieces from around the world and across the ages, including more Monets than any museum outside of Paris, an unrivaled Japanese art collection, treasures from Egypt and the ancient world, and American art from colonial to modern times.

Our work resulted in the recruitment of Elizabeth Dospel Williams to the role.

Elizabeth Dospel Williams previously served as Curator of the Byzantine Collection at Dumbarton Oaks. Her exhibitions and publications have explored historical dress practice, gender, materiality, and aesthetics through a focus on wearable objects and interior design. In collaboration with the George Washington University Museum/the Textile Museum, she co-curated Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt (2019). At Dumbarton Oaks, her recent exhibitions include Rich in Blessings: Women, Wealth, and the Late Antique Household (2023-24) and Ornament: Fragments of Byzantine Fashion (2019). Dospel Williams has also coordinated projects on Mediterranean and ancient American micromosaic artifacts and on South Arabian bronze sculpture with international teams of conservators, scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and art historians. She has been committed to making jewelry and textiles accessible to broad audiences through innovative programming, open-access publications, and engaging exhibitions.

Dospel Williams completed a PhD in Byzantine and Islamic art history and archaeology at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and earned an ALM in Management at Harvard University, Extension School, with a focus on non-profit management and organizational behavior. Her publications on textiles and jewelry have appeared in Dumbarton Oaks Papers, West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture, and The Textile Museum Journal, as well as numerous edited volumes and exhibition catalogues.

Dospel Williams serves on the editorial board of The Art Bulletin as well as the governing boards of the Medieval Academy of America and the International Center for Medieval Art. Her professional training includes the 2015 Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice at the Center for Curatorial Leadership, as well as the 2018 German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for WWII-era research.