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Emily Ballew Neff.
Emily Ballew Neff.

San Antonio Museum of Art Names Emily Ballew Neff Director

The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) today announced Emily Ballew Neff as its next director. Neff earlier this year resigned from the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, where she had served as executive director since 2015. She will assume her new role at SAMA on January 18, 2022.

“As a native Texan, with deep roots across the state, Emily brings a keen understanding of the region and a vast range of relationships that will support the museum’s vision and work in sustainable ways well into the future,” said SAMA board chair Ed Hart. “Over the course of her career, Emily has proven to be an exceptional leader with a strong commitment to community, a skilled fundraiser, and a thoughtful curator who brings to the fore important stories about people, cultures, and places. As San Antonio continues to develop as a vibrant cultural hub, she is exactly the person we need to lead the institution into its next chapter as an engaging civic institution that embraces and reflects its many audiences.”

While at the Brooks Museum, Neff led the effort to resituate that institution in downtown Memphis in a new Herzog & de Meuron–designed building, further integrating it within the city’s civic and cultural fabric. She also played a key role in the museum’s campaign to diversify its board and esgtablished the Joyce Blackmon Curatorial Fellowship in African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora. Prior to her work at Brooks, Neff served as the director and chief curator at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and as the founding curator of American painting and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

“Across the past forty 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. 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,” said Neff. “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.”