Schroth Reappointed as Nasher Museum of Art Director

Leadership helped make museum a cornerstone of the Duke arts renaissance

Sarah Schroth, Nasher Museum of Art
Sarah Schroth has strengthened the ties between the museum and the local community. Photo by J Caldwell/Nasher Museum of Art

Sarah Schroth has been reappointed as the Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum of Art for a five-year term beginning July 1, Provost Sally Kornbluth announced today.

As both senior curator and director, Schroth has raised the Nasher Museum’s profile in the international art world. Over the course of 12 years, she helped to secure the museum’s reputation as one of the country’s top university art museums. The Nasher is also the first cornerstone in the arts renaissance at Duke. Schroth joined the museum back in 1995, when it was still on East Campus and known as the Duke University Museum of Art; she was named director in 2013.

Her reappointment followed a faculty committee review chaired by Tom Rankin, professor of the practice of art and director of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts.

“The Nasher Museum has contributed significantly to the Duke and Durham communities as well as to the art world more broadly thanks in great part to Sarah’s leadership.  She is committed to integrating the arts into the Duke educational experience, but also views the museum as a resource for the region and as an active participant in the arts nationally and internationally,” stated Kornbluth. 

Under her leadership, the Nasher Museum has sponsored a significant number of high-profile exhibitions, from the Cone Sisters Collection of modern art to the upcoming “Pop América, 1965-1975,” detailing Latin American influence on Pop art. Schroth has also built a stronger relationship with university faculty and students, making the museum a prominent place of campus academic, social and cultural life.

And the museum has increased its outreach programs throughout Durham and the region, most notably commissioning artist Odili Donald Odita to do a public art mural in downtown Durham to celebrate the museum’s 10th anniversary in 2015.

The Nasher Museum’s growing collection includes some of today’s best contemporary art, with a focus on work by artists of African descent. Other major strengths in the collection include European medieval art, European and American paintings, Outsider art, classical antiquities, African art and ancient American (Pre-Columbian) art.

An expert on Spanish art of the 17th century, 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 co-organized with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Schroth was named knight-commander in the Order of Isabel la Catolica 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. Her teaching interests are patronage studies in the field of Spanish art, and museum studies with an emphasis on exhibition planning, connoisseurship and conservation.

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. 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.