Urgent Museum Notice

Image for Get To Know Nmwa’s Director: Part 2

Get to Know NMWA’s Director: Part 2

Blog Category:  Director's Desk

NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling answers questions about art, equity, and travel. This is part two of a two-part questionnaire. Explore part one.

Yael Bartana, What if Women Ruled the World, 2016; Neon, 98 1/2 x 38 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase, Belinda de Gaudemar Acquisition Fund, with additional support from the Members’ Acquisition Fund; © Yael Bartana; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

What do you consider your greatest achievements regarding women and the arts?
First, helping NMWA founder Wilhelmina Holladay and the board of trustees to build this museum. Second, having the privilege of working in contemporary art and being in the exciting position of introducing artists to the world.
What is your favorite museum outside of your own?
It could be the last one I’ve visited. The Science Gallery in Dublin is working in an innovative way. I have always loved the Musée Guimet in Paris and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich. I like museums that surprise me. There’s a real sense of discovery when you are at a smaller museum, and it becomes a jewel box experience.
What has been your most inspirational travel destination?
I traveled to Brazil in 1993 and saw phenomenally important work from the 1960s and 1970s that I had never seen, the flipside of what was happening in the U.S. at the time. I was one of the first curators in the U.S. to recognize that this work was missing from our lexicon of great contemporary art. As a result of the trip, we were able to show two exhibitions of work by Brazilian women artists at NMWA.

Frida Baranek, Untitled, 1991; Iron, 44 x 75 x 46 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase: The Lois Pollard Price Acquisition Fund; © Frida Baranek / Galeria Raquel Arnaud, © Frida Baranek

What do women in leadership positions in the arts need more of?
According to the 2014 Association of American Art Museum Directors survey, there is a gender gap in salaries. We need more women in executive leadership positions and more women in board leadership positions. We also need to create more time for women to speak with experts from other fields, creating centers for relevant conversations about the future of our culture. And we need an influx of younger people who believe in what museums do.
What does gender equity mean to you?
Women need to be recognized both as sole producers and as part of a larger context of women. Equal representation has a ripple effect. Communities will support women if their work is valued. We need to focus on a wider world view including women of color.
What artistic talent would you most like to have?
It may not be an artistic talent, but I’ve always wanted to be able to see the future.
Tell us something we might not know about you.
I like science fiction—especially Star Trek and Westworld. I wonder what art would look like on another planet or galaxy.

Related Posts

  • Welcome!

    Posted: Jul 06, 2009 in Director's Desk
    As the director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, I welcome you to our new blog, Broad Strokes: NMWA’s Blog for the 21st Century! As NMWA enters...
    The artist stands in a stage-like space framed by white curtains. Beneath black hair woven with red yarn and flowers, heavy brows accent her dark-eyed gaze. Clad in a fringed, honey-toned shawl; long, pink skirt; and gold jewelry, she holds a bouquet and a handwritten letter.
    Blog Category:  Director's Desk
  • Director’s Desk: Amy Sherald Inspires

    Posted: Mar 28, 2018 in Director's Desk
    A few weeks ago at the National Portrait Gallery, a two-year-old girl stood captivated in front of Michelle Obama’s new portrait by Amy Sherald, the artist who also won the...
    Amy Sherald speaks to a crowd in a gallery beside her striking portraits depicting individuals with gray skintones against vibrant, solid-colored backgrounds. She gestures with her hands and has a serious expression on her face.
    Blog Category:  Director's Desk
  • Get to Know NMWA’s Director: Part 1

    Posted: Jul 09, 2018 in Director's Desk
    NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling answers questions about art, equity, and travel. This is part two of a two-part questionnaire. Explore part two. Was there a pivotal moment that led you...