Meet Todd Crumley, Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Todd Crumley

Todd Crumley has one of the most interesting jobs at Wake Forest: Preserving the history of Reynolda House. As director of Archives and Library for Reynolda House Museum of American Art, he’s the keeper of the estate’s historic records. His career path to Reynolda House included managing a country-rock band. On the side, he preserves comic books and admits he’d rather play baseball than go bowling in the Reynolds’ bowling alley.

What do you do?

Our archives documents the creation and development of the Reynolda Estate, from its early 20th century origins to the present day. We are fortunate that so much material (paper records, photographs, architectural and landscape plans) from the early years of the estate’s history has been preserved, allowing us to get a pretty good idea of what this place looked like and how it functioned when Katharine and R.J. Reynolds were creating it and living here (c. 1910-1924).

Much of my time is spent assisting researchers with this material. This can include students writing papers, a community member or scholar searching for a particular estate or family photograph, or Reynolda House Museum of American Art staff researching possible exhibitions or programs. I also document the collection and organize/preserve the material so it may be used now and in the future. Recently, I have begun managing our Museum’s library as well. It supports research on our art collection and American art history.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I feel like I learn something every day I’m here. Whether it’s about Reynolda history, Wake Forest history, Winston-Salem history, the archives profession or even American art; learning something every day keeps me excited about what I am doing and where I am. I hope/think that allows me to assist researchers better and be a better archivist in general. It’s also a bonus to work with a great group of people in a place with such historical significance for the Wake Forest and Winston-Salem communities. And there are some cool paintings on the wall, too.

Do you get to work with students or faculty much?

I do indeed. Most recently I supplied historic photographs for students working on documentary films focused on Reynolda Gardens and Z. Smith Reynolds.

What’s one of the highlights of your time at Reynolda House?

A colleague and I helped start Reynolda After Hours here in 2006. Reynolda After Hours is a series of events focused on folks in their 20s-to-40s, designed to get young professionals engaged with the Museum. With the help of a group of dedicated volunteers, we started things off with a closing cocktail party for the Museum’s Moving Pictures exhibition and have been hosting events a few times each year ever since. Examples of Reynolda After Hours events include art activities, dance lessons, films and live music. They continue to be a great way to learn more about Reynolda, its collections, and exhibitions and to have a fun time too. Our Spring Reynolda After Hours event is an indoor drive-in coming up on April 29.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Lincolnton, North Carolina.

How did you end up at Wake Forest?

After graduate school I worked at Duke University before moving here in 2000 to manage a band. While working with the Emma Gibbs Band, a country-rock band based out of Winston-Salem, I started working part-time at Reynolda. That eventually became a full-time position and I’ve been here ever since. I highly recommend everyone manage a band at some point in their lives.

Family?

I have been married for three wonderful years to Gaby Costello, a PhD candidate in neurobiology and anatomy at the School of Medicine. We have a 17-month-old son named Joaquin. And a bird named Xerxes.

What do you do when you’re not working?

Along with spending time with my family, I enjoy bowling, reading and writing fiction, and reading comic books. The archivist in me has preserved those comic books in appropriate folders and boxes to be enjoyed by future generations so I guess you could say that I collect comic books as well. I also love traveling and look forward to seeing as much of the world as I can. My wife is from Argentina so that is one of our regular destinations.

What’s your dream job?

That would be professional baseball player. I have neither baseball skills nor any interest in acquiring them. And I am also too old. But I could see myself enjoying that job. If allowed to get more specific, I’ll go with second baseman for the Dodgers.

Do you ever go down to the bowling alley in the basement and roll a few frames?

I never have. I need to remind myself to bring my shoes to work.

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