San Antonio Museum of Art appoints Emily Ballew Neff as new director

click to enlarge Emily Ballew Neff will join SAMA on January 18. - Courtesy of San Antonio Museum of Art
Courtesy of San Antonio Museum of Art
Emily Ballew Neff will join SAMA on January 18.
The San Antonio Museum of Art has appointed Emily Ballew Neff — whose experience includes directing and curating museums in Houston, Memphis and Oklahoma — as its new director.

SAMA Board of Trustees selected Neff following an international search. She will assume the role starting January 18.

Neff most recently served as executive director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. She previously held roles including director and chief curator at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma and as founding curator of American painting and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

SAMA's prior director Katie Luber left the institution in 2019 to run the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The museum was co-directed by Lisa Tapp and William Keyse Rudolph in the interim. Rudolph has since left SAMA for a position at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Across the past 40 years, SAMA has grown from its grassroots beginnings into an institution recognized for its expansive encyclopedic collection, a history of scholarship and innovative presentations, and a deep commitment to its community," Neff said in a statement. "I am so looking forward to the opportunity to work with the Museum’s team and board to further enhance its leadership role within the city of San Antonio and the nation’s broader arts and culture landscape."

She added: “I am also excited to return to Texas as part of San Antonio’s fast-growing community, and to continue to expand the Museum’s collaborations, collections, exhibitions, and programs in new and compelling directions.”

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Kelly Nelson

Kelly Nelson is a digital content editor for the San Antonio Current.

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