Bradley Wright Ferrarini '06, US Director for the American Friends Musée d'Orsay (AFMO), pictured at the Musée de l'Orangerie; photo by Krystal Kenney.

The Business of Art

November 16, 2022

Bradley Wright Ferrarini just returned from her annual trip to Paris where, as Director of American Friends Musée d’Orsay (AMFO) U.S., she helped raise over $1 million to further support the Musée d’Orsay and its sister institution, the Musée de l’Orangerie.

Interested in art and museums from an early age, Ferrarini took advantage of every chance to broaden her horizons while at Richmond, pairing her studies—a BSBA degree with a marketing focus, art history and French minors, and an arts management concentration—with experiential opportunities through study abroad and University Museums. She was awarded two summer fellowships, first as a curatorial Arts and Sciences fellow and then as the Harnett Fellow, where she had the opportunity to travel to New York City to shadow fellow UR alumna, Grace Brady, who, at the time, was managing the Board of Trustees at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

After graduation, Ferrarini packed two suitcases and moved to a sublet in Manhattan, landing a position in the development office at the Metropolitan Museum. “I worked my way up within the office for nearly eight years,” she shared, during which time she took evening classes to earn her M.A. in Visual Arts Administration from New York University. Her duties grew from administrative work to more strategic fundraising as a member of the capital campaign team. While there, she saw firsthand the behind-the-scenes planning for The American Wing renovation project as the departmental liaison and was (in her words) “literally a fly on the wall” for seven star-studded Met Galas, while greeting VIP guests and museum patrons in attendance.

In 2013, Ferrarini took an opportunity in a more frontline fundraising role at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where she managed—and ultimately doubled—the Director’s Council, a distinguished group of philanthropists and collectors, before joining AMFO a few years later. 

The Musée d’Orsay is in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station on the Left Bank, and houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, including many works by Degas, Monet, Cezanne, Morisot, Renoir, and van Gogh. As stateside director, Ferrarini works closely with the President’s Office at the museum and travels often for her work. The annual Gala “Weekend in Paris” held each October is AMFO’s largest fundraiser, providing critical support to the museums’ ongoing priorities. Ferrarini also plans an annual domestic spring trip and took patrons to Chicago this year to see Impressionist exhibitions and private collections.

“AMFO is also proud to support the Contemporary Art Program, enabling the museum to invite living artists to create new works and installations in response to the permanent collection, with the mission to create an ongoing dialogue in this way,” Ferrarini shared. Last month, AMFO welcomed artist Kehinde Wiley at the Orsay for its Gala Evening. Wiley is widely known for having painted Barack Obama’s portrait and currently has several large-scale works on view in the Orsay nave. Earlier this fall, Bradley also took several AFMO members to Mickalene Thomas’ Brooklyn studio, where guests saw her newest works before they traveled to France which are now on view at the Orangerie as part of the Contemporary Art Program.

Of all the galleries she has visited, the nymphéas (water lilies) galleries at the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens are always a must-see. 

Ferrarini remains in touch with University of Richmond Museums Directors Richard Waller and Elizabeth Schlatter, and, along with fellow alumna, Laura Murphy Doyle, ’06, continues to host the University Museums’ Harnett Fellow in NYC each summer. “It’s a few packed days of meetings with UR alumni in the arts, all across the city,” she shared. “There is an impressive network of Spiders working at top galleries, museums, auction houses, and other arts organizations here.” 

Ferrarini is passing along her love of art to the next generation as well. “I have been taking (or rather dragging) my two young daughters to exhibitions, art fairs, and museums since birth. I am lucky that—at least for now—they are both always up for another art adventure with mom. Someday, I will take them to Paris too.”