Sarah Schroth, the Nancy Hanks Senior Curator at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, has been named the museum’s new director, Duke President Richard H. Brodhead announced Thursday.
Schroth has been serving as its interim director since November. She succeeds Kimerly Rorschach as the Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the museum. Rorschach left Duke to become president of the Seattle Art Museum.
“Sarah is one of the most respected and admired curators in the country. With her appointment as director, we can be certain of the Nasher Museum’s continued rise as an arts force on campus, in the region, and nationally,” Brodhead said. “Her talent and imagination fueled the museum’s initial success, and her plans for further integrating the Nasher Museum with other creative activity across the campus, and in the community, will create a new level of excellence for the arts at Duke.”
An expert on Spanish art of the 17th century, Schroth, 62, joined the Duke University Museum of Art — as it was then known — in 1995. In her new role, she will serve as the Nasher Museum’s chief executive, with responsibility for its artistic excellence and intellectual direction. She reports to Provost Peter Lange, the university’s senior academic officer.
“I am thrilled with the selection of Sarah as director of the Nasher Museum,” Lange said. “She has been a superb curator, bringing wonderful shows and working closely with Trevor Schoonmaker and the visiting and faculty curators to give the Nasher Museum its outstanding and distinctive artistic profile during its founding years.”
“In addition, she has worked with me three times as interim director, on each occasion providing excellent leadership while doing two jobs. Now that she will be the director, I am anticipating continued outstanding and innovative programming in this next phase of the Nasher Museum’s development into one of the pre-eminent university museums in the country and the world.
While at Duke, Schroth has organized numerous shows ranging from old masters to contemporary art, including the award-winning 2008 exhibition, El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III. As a result of that exhibition, which she organized with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Schroth was named knight-commander in the Order of Isabel la Católica by King Juan Carlos I of Spain. She also has collaborated on major exhibitions with the Museo del Prado, the Seattle Art Museum and others, and has published widely.
Schroth has worked closely with Duke faculty in shaping their scholarship into exhibitions, such as by working as co-curator with Kristine Stiles on Rauschenberg’s Legacy and with Patricia Leighten on Light Sensitive: Photographic Work from North Carolina Collections. She also has been a coordinating curator with faculty guest curators, such as Mark Antliff on The Vorticists. Her teaching interests are patronage studies in the field of Spanish art, and museum studies with an emphasis on exhibition planning, connoisseurship and conservation.
Before coming to Duke, Schroth worked at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; and the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She majored in art history at Mary Washington College and, after working at the Atlanta College of Art and living in Spain, earned her Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. She went on to receive the David E. Finley Fellowship at the National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts.
“I’m delighted to have this opportunity to lead the Nasher Museum in what promises to be a very exciting time in its history, as we approach its 10th anniversary celebration in 2015, undertake new initiatives in undergraduate education and expand the scope of our exhibitions,” Schroth said. “It’s been my privilege to have served under a great director in Kim Rorschach, whose model I am honored to follow; to have worked closely with Raymond Nasher, the museum’s founding patron, whose legacy of connoisseurship and patronage I hold dear; to have supervised a relentlessly hard-working and uncomplaining staff as interim director; and to have enjoyed the support and guidance of Dick Brodhead and Peter Lange throughout my time at Duke. Having been present at the creation of the Nasher Museum, I welcome the opportunity to continue and expand on the work of so many.”
Richard Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies and a member of the Nasher Museum’s board of advisors and faculty advisory committee, chaired an 11-person committee that conducted an international search for the position.
The Nasher Museum opened in 2005 as a major center for the arts on Duke’s campus and in the surrounding Research Triangle area. It promotes engagement with the visual arts among a broad community, including Duke students, faculty and staff, the greater Durham community, the Triangle region, and the national and international art community. The museum presents an ambitious schedule of exhibitions, many of which travel to major institutions around the world, and has a growing collection of international contemporary art. Each year, more than 100,000 people visit the 65,000-square-foot museum, which was designed by architect Rafael Viñoly.