San Antonio Museum of Art plucks Philly art exec as its new director in Texasturnover saga
In a new chapter in Texas' saga of museum executive openings, the San Antonio Museum of Art has named Philadelphia Museum of Art European paintings curator Katherine Luber as its new director. A fifth-generation native Texan, Luber will assume her role in July as current director Marion Oettinger steps down to devote himself to the position of full-time curator of the Latin American art collection.
As a major city's encyclopedic art museum, SAMA shares several qualities with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which is in the throes of a search for a replacement for the celebrated Peter Marzio. Like the MFAH, the San Antonio Museum boasts an impressive Latin American art collection.
Before Marzio passed away in Dec. 2010, he had spoken with CultureMap on plans to build a new building with galleries devoted to showcasing the museum's permanent collection of art from the region. SAMA opened its own specific Latin American art arena, the 30,000-square-foot Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art, in 1998.
Luber brings strengths in both the curatorial and business realms. With degrees earned at Yale, the University of Texas and Bryn Mawr College, she honed her curatorial training via internships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MFAH.
In 1993, Luber joined the department of European paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, overseeing one of the largest collections of old master paintings in the world. While at that museum, she organized award-winning exhibitions such as Recognizing Van Eyck, while spearheading the reinstallation and mechanical refurbishment of various collections as well as the installation of Latin American colonial paintings.
Luber's curatorial cred extends to a slew of publications on Renaissance painting, including a 2005 monograph on Albrecht Dürer.
For the museum director, business acumen is just as valued as curatorial vision. During his tenure at the MFAH, Marzio exhibited an unprecedented business know-how as he expanded the museum's budget from $5 million to $52 million and its endowment ascended to $1 billion.
With an MBA from John Hopkins University, Luber launched a highly successful, niche company, The Seasoned Palate, Inc., that distributes organic spices in one-teaspoon packets. But will her boutique business experience bring big bucks to the San Antonio art institution?
Openings still remain at San Antonio's Artpace and the Dallas Museum of Art. As the MFAH selection committee moves forward, Houston museum audiences await to learn which Lone Star State institution will nab the leading CEO with that expertly-trained art eye.