Featured Team Member: GraceAnn Murphy

GraceAnn Murphy brings three decades of design and organizational expertise to The Magnusson Group. After a career in graphic design, she transitioned to interior design and staging, specializing in accessories to enhance large spaces, from floral arrangements for hotels to giant floorcloths for beach homes. A founding board member of Hope Autism Foundation, she regularly plans fundraising galas and holiday house tours. She has a BFA in Graphic Design from Boston University and has lived in Basking Ridge for 25 years.

We asked GraceAnn a few questions so our Magnusson community can get to know her better!

What is your favorite or memorable book/movie/show/impression/museum and why?
My favorite museum is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  I enjoyed many peaceful hours there while I was a student at Boston University.  Whether I was on assignment or visiting for my own enjoyment, I felt like I was strolling through a Venetian palazzo.   An unfortunate footnote in the history of this gem of a museum: in 1990, 13 works of art were stolen in a dramatic and brazen heist.  Over 30 years later, the case remains unsolved and no arrests have been made.  None of the art has been recovered.  (See the Netflix series “This is a Robbery” for the full story).


Dutch Room, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. Photo: Sean Dungan

What is something no one would ever guess about you?
Something that most people don’t know about me is that I occasionally moonlight as a sous pastry chef.  My sister is a professional pastry chef in the Washington DC area and sometimes she needs an extra set of hands for a large event.  I have plated and garnished thousands of desserts, and I get to work at fabulous venues like the Carnegie Institute, the National Portrait Gallery and many of the Smithsonian Museums.  I love the energy created in our makeshift “kitchens” and how timing must be executed with military precision.



What do you collect?
I grew up on Long Island near the Great South Bay.  I began collecting seashells from a very young age. I always enjoyed walking along the beach for hours, picking through seaweed for treasures.  Now I hunt for shells and beach glass (though the glass is all but extinct with the advent of plastic bottles) on Long Beach Island and in Narragansett, Rhode Island.  I have always been fascinated by the intricacies and shapes of shells and the fact that tiny industrious creatures created these works of art.  Ironically, I can’t eat shellfish of any kind, as I am highly allergic.  Perhaps this is my way of staying connected to these majestic vessels.


What do you do for fun?
I love to grow things, anything pretty and/or edible.  I am obsessed with hydrangeas and perfecting just the right shade of deep blue.  My green thumb is a work in progress, but I will keep at it!

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