Art gifts

Robbin Zella retires after 24 years at the Housatonic Art Museum

The director of the Housatonic Museum of Art (HMA), Robbin Zella, retired at the end of June. Ms. Zella has served as the director of the museum, located on the Housatonic Community College (HCC) campus in Bridgeport, since 1998. A retreat luncheon was held and a college scholarship was established 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 wider community, and Housatonic is grateful for her stewardship over all these years,” said Dr. Dwayne Smith, CEO of Housatonic Community College. “

During his tenure, more than 120 exhibitions graced the Museum’s Burt Chernow Galleries and surrounding spaces on the university campus. Exhibits 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 by local artists have also been featured regularly in exhibits, from cities in Connecticut and New York, as well as in annual student and faculty exhibits.

Under Ms. Zella’s leadership, the museum’s impressive collection has grown from 3,000 pieces to more than 7,000 today, making the HMA one of the nation’s premier university art collections. New additions to the collection include works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Walter Iooss, Frank A. Rinehart, Chuck Close and Sally Gall, with a special donation of over 150 Polaroids from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Zella has created designated galleries to showcase art on campus, including a new Elizabeth Fray Gallery that features objects from the Arts of the Americas collection. She commissioned a gigantic new sculpture from artist Jongil Ma and created a student mentorship program that was celebrated as a national model at the Leadership Retreat for the Presidential Committee on Arts and Sciences’ Turnaround Arts Initiative. Humanities, which uses arts education to help turn around struggling American schools.

To honor her work and the lasting impact she has had at Housatonic Community College, the Robbin A. Zella Scholarship Fund has been established. This scholarship will ensure that bright and talented HCC students who wish to pursue a career in art history or museum studies are supported. To date, over $16,000 has been raised. To learn more or to donate, visit

“Robbin’s talent, his dedication to the care of the collection and perhaps most importantly, his passion for bringing art into the lives of our students and the community at large, will be sorely missed. We are pleased to honor Robbin’s legacy with this new scholarship,” said Kristy Jelenik, Director of the Housatonic Community College Foundation.