V&A Spotlight On... Cynthia Corbett

V&A, October 2, 2020

About me

I was born and raised in Massachusetts - I studied Political Science, languages and International Relations at UMASS Amherst & Tufts & Harvard Universities before completing my Post Graduate Degree at Christie's Education in Art History. I moved to London from New York in 1985 and worked as an Economist before becoming a Gallerist in 2004 - launching first the Cynthia Corbett Gallery and then in 2009, the Young Masters Art Prize.
Importance of the V&A to me
Almost as soon as I arrived in London in the 1980's I would visit the Museum district most weekends and it has been a real cultural gift to me to see the Museum evolve and grow. My husband and I love to have coffee in the historic Mosaic rooms and latterly I would visit quite often the incredible Curated exhibitions with my Daughter Carmela and dear friends. The combination of art treasures both fine art & decorative and the design projects of the Museum - means the V&A is really unique and has something for all art lovers.
Favourite space or object in the Museum?
So many -  but my love of all things from the Italian Renaissance means I have to say the Raphael Cartoons - I can not wait for their majestic reopening in November 2020. Also I still get chills every time I walk through the Sculpture Galleries looking out to the magnificent Courtyard - the combination of the art treasure and the incredible architecture is just breathtaking. And the Ceramic Galleries - I literally could live there - when you look up and see the Edmund de Waal installation in the rotunda - one feels we are in heaven!!
What difference has the Director's Circle made to you?
The Museum has always been special to me however getting involved in a more personal way has meant I feel I am part of the V&A "family" as everyone from the Director - Tristram Hunt, to the Development staff, curators and general personnel - is so friendly, open and passionate about the institution. The collections really live and my being part of the Director's Circle has fortunately coincided with many of the artists who were selected for our Young Masters Art Prize being artists in residence and part of Group Exhibitions - such as Matt Smith & Lucille Lewin. The insight I have gained from closer ties to the Curatorial & Development Teams have made all these projects and events especially meaningful.
Which designed object has enriched your life for the better and why?
was incredibly fortunate that I married a man whose background in the Midlands and Worcestershire meant he and his family had a lovely collection of Ceramics, something that since childhood I loved and revered. When we inherited a Swansea tea set from my husband's late Mother - it opened up a whole new world for us in historical terms and I am now even more interested in porcelain and ceramics - both old and contemporary - partly why I expanded the Young Masters Art Prize to feature a unique ceramic strand!As I said I could live in the Ceramic Galleries - you never know I may get locked in by mistake during one of our tours!!