Director of Education
Over the past several years, Shelly Casto has raised the center’s profile as a model for innovative museum education. As education director since 2005 (she has been with the Wexner Center since 2002), Casto has reorganized the Wexner Center’s education department staff and developed a slate of new programs for youth, families, schools, teachers, and teens, while forging new and deeper partnerships with local K–12 schools as well as with Ohio State’s College of Education. She and her staff have created pioneering new programs specifically targeted to teenagers especially, including the Art & Environment cross-disciplinary course for high-school students; Pages (a rigorous writing course using the contemporary arts as a springboard); and summer Teen Arts Fusion workshops. Under Casto’s leadership, the center launched a series of innovative performing arts programming for families several years ago, as well as the annual Zoom: Family Film Festival in conjunction with the center’s film department. Casto has also expanded the center’s docent corps to include Ohio State students, who are trained and given a stipend for tours, thereby diversifying the docent team and fostering more peer-to-peer interaction in the galleries. In a foray into exhibition curation, Casto organized Kerry James Marshall: Every Beat of My Heart, a multimedia gallery exhibition in 2008, the result of a creative residency that also involved local teens presenting a performance accompanying the exhibition. An advocate for "green" initiatives of all kinds, she worked with artist and Ohio State art professor Michael Mercil on his Beanfield and Virtual Pasture "agri/cultural" projects outside the Wexner Center, and has spearheaded the launch of a farmers' market on the Wexner Center plaza.
Casto was also the founding co-chair of ACE Collective, a coalition of education directors of cultural non-profit organizations in the central Ohio area (established in 2006), and is on the founding leadership team of SURGE Columbus, a city-wide youth initiative. In addition, she was an invited contributor to the Center for Education in the Visual Arts (CEVA) museum educators’ colloquium at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA in 2008 and 2012.
Prior to joining the Wexner Center, Shelly Casto was with the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, serving as acting director of education and associate director of education. She has also taught at the University of Hartford and worked at the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut and the Ann Arbor Art Center. A native of central Ohio, Casto received an M.A. in art education from The Ohio State University and a B.A. in art history from Oberlin College.