David Coleman has been appointed director of the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.
The Wittliff Collections, which are on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library, include the Southwestern Writers Collection, the Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection, and the Lonesome Dove Collection. As many as 150 prints can be on view at any given time at the Wittliff’s exhibition spaces, with six to 10 exhibitions mounted each year. Receptions, readings, panel discussions, and other special events are held in a large main gallery, which includes two smaller galleries nested within.
Coleman joins Texas State from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where he served as the chief curator for photography. He earned his doctorate in art history from the University of Texas in 2005 and worked at the Ransom Center since 1996.
“David has that wonderful combination of experience and passion that so nicely dovetails with the collections’ commitment to preserve and celebrate our region’s literary and photographic heritage—that, and he is one terrifically nice guy to boot, one we’re all delighted to welcome into the collections’ ever-growing family of kindred spirits,” said Bill Wittliff, founding donor of the collections.
Coleman replaces former director Connie Todd, who retired in January 2010. Wittliff Collections staffer Steve Davis, who served as interim director during the candidate search, will now resume his role as a full-time curator.
Coleman grew up in Dallas and attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in art history, graduating magna cum laude. He earned his master of arts in art history from Hunter College, City University of New York. In New York he worked at the Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum. Coleman joined the staff of the Ransom Center as a research associate in 1996, and he was quickly promoted to curator of Photography and department head.
During his tenure at the Ransom Center, Coleman supervised the photography department while developing major exhibitions from the collections, including Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection; Dress Up: Portrait and Performance in Victorian Photography; Ansel Adams: A Legacy; The Battle for the Eastern Front: Photographs from the William Broyles, Jr. Collection; Place: Photographs of Environment and Community; and Henry Peach Robinson: Victorian Photographer. He was responsible for collection development, programming, and collection management, and he served as the series editor for the Ransom Center’s photography book series with the University of Texas Press. He organized and participated in public and academic programs, including the “Focus on Photography” public program series, symposia and academic conferences.
“It’s an honor to become the new director of the Wittliff Collections,” Coleman said. “I have long admired many things about the Wittliff, from its clearly defined mission, its outstanding collections, its beautiful public spaces, and its dedicated staff. There is a tremendous spirit that emanates from the Wittliff, and I look forward to nurturing that spirit while leading the organization through its continuing evolution.”