As an art history major, Ogilvy spent a semester living in Florence, Italy, a city filled with world-famous masterpieces. But it was working at two tiny galleries there that provided her with the most excitement of her stay. “It was my first experience working with living artists, and I fell in love with it,” she says.
She’s been doing that on her own since 2015, when she opened the Abigail Ogilvy Gallery in Boston, which focuses on new pieces by emerging and mid-career artists. When it comes to what goes on the gallery walls, her taste goes beyond aesthetics. Many of her artists—including painter Natalia Wróbel ’11 and sculptor Katherine Taylor ’97—have an unmistakable style. “It has to be compelling, intriguing and more than just pleasing to the eye,” Ogilvy says.
Her resume is somewhat unconventional for the art world. After Dartmouth she was hired at home goods website Wayfair before moving to Moontoast, a social media advertising startup, where she spent 18-hour days. Burned out, she quit to follow her passion. Ogilvy worked for more than a year at multiple jobs to fund the gallery. She also took courses at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in Manhattan and networked hard to prepare. “I knew I could do this with my whole heart every day of the week,” she says.
In the gallery’s first year, Ogilvy hosted 40 events—from whiskey tastings to poetry readings—to get clients in the door. Moving forward, she wants to expand beyond Boston and participate in international art fairs and cultivate relationships with collectors and curators. “One day, museums might want to buy from our artists,” she says. “That would be a big deal.”