Robbin Zella Retires After 24 Years At Housatonic Museum of Art

Published: June 28, 2022
Robbin Zella

Housatonic Community College scholarship created in her name.

Housatonic Museum of Art (HMA) Director Robbin Zella announced that she will retire at the end of June. Ms. Zella has held the role of director of the museum, located on the Housatonic Community College (HCC) campus in Bridgeport, since 1998. A retirement luncheon was held and a scholarship to the college was created in her name.

“The Museum, its collections, and its programs will forever bear the impact of Robbin’s unwavering dedication. She has enriched the lives of our students, faculty and the greater community, and Housatonic is grateful for her stewardship all these many years,” said Dr. Dwayne Smith, CEO of Housatonic Community College. “

During her tenure, over 120 exhibitions have graced the Museum’s Burt Chernow Galleries and surrounding spaces on the college campus. Exhibitions include world-renowned artists such as Ansel Adams, Sol LeWitt, Rembrandt, Chuck Close, Joe Zucker, Steve McCurry, and Jenny Holzer to name a few. Works of local artists were also regularly featured in shows, drawing from towns throughout Connecticut and into New York, as well as annual student and faculty shows.

Under Ms. Zella’s directorship, the museum’s impressive collection grew from 3,000 pieces to over 7,000 today, making the HMA home to one of the premier college art collections in the country. New additions to the collection include works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Walter Iooss, Frank A. Rinehart, Chuck Close and Sally Gall, with a special gift of over 150 Polaroids from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Zella created designated galleries to showcase art on campus, including a newly established Elizabeth Fray Gallery that displays objects from the Arts of the Americas collection. She commissioned a mammoth new sculpture by artist Jongil Ma, and established a Student Docent Program that was celebrated as a national model at the Leadership Retreat for the Turnaround Arts initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which uses arts education to help turn around America's struggling schools.

To honor her work and the lasting impact she has made at Housatonic Community College, the Robbin A. Zella Scholarship Fund has been created. This scholarship will ensure that HCC’s bright and talented students who wish to pursue careers in art history or museum studies are supported. To date, over $16,000 has been raised. To learn more, or to make a donation visit housatonic.edu/donations.

“Robbin’s talent, devotion for the care of the collection and perhaps most importantly, her passion for bringing art into the lives of our students and greater community, will be greatly missed. We are pleased to pay tribute to Robbin’s legacy through this new scholarship,” said Kristy Jelenik, Director of the Housatonic Community College Foundation.

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The HCC Foundation expands access to quality, affordable higher education and works closely with the college to enhance the learning experience and workforce development education and training of students.  As a 501 (c)3 tax exempt organization, its mission is to solicit, secure and manage contributions from the private sector through philanthropic individuals, corporations and foundations for the benefit of Housatonic Community College. 

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