- UC Santa Cruz
- Visual Studies PhD
Erin O’Toole (Kresge, 1992) was raised in Los Angeles, where she became interested in art and museums at an early age. She came to UCSC with dreams of becoming a painter, but discovered her true calling when she took her first art history survey. After completing a Master’s degree in Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1998, she held various jobs in the arts: professional assistant at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles; writer for Ruder Finn, Inc., a public relations company specializing in arts organizations; and director of the Scott Nichols Gallery in San Francisco, which specializes in photography.
In 2010, she received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Arizona, home of the Center for Creative Photography, one of the most important archives of photography in the world. The subject of her dissertation was the 1940 founding of the Department of Photographs at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the first department at a major museum dedicated exclusively to photography.
In 2007, O’Toole became an assistant curator of photography at SFMOMA. Most recently she was curator of The View from Here (2010), a large-scale survey of California photography organized in celebration of SFMOMA’s seventy-fifth anniversary. She is a contributing author of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: 75 Years of Looking Forward (2010), as well as SFMOMA’s award-winning Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840 to 1900 (2009), and Nancy Newhall: A Literacy of Images (2009), published by the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego. She is currently assisting photographer and author Leo Rubinfein to organize a major retrospective of the work of photographer Garry Winogrand, which will open at SFMOMA in 2013, and travel to the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Jeu de Paume.