July 2, 2024

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw named Inaugural Faculty Director of the Arthur Ross Gallery

The University of Pennsylvania has named Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw as the Arthur Ross Gallery’s inaugural faculty director, effective June 1.

“This is an exciting day for Penn’s arts and culture community and the future of the Arthur Ross Gallery, as we look to strengthen the Gallery’s unique identity on our campus and its role in engaging our faculty and students, advancing our academic mission, and providing a vital hub of art practice and education,” said Provost John L. Jackson Jr. “Gwendolyn is the ideal leader to bring together the work of the Gallery with our missions of research, teaching, and learning in these ways.”

Shaw is the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Professor in the Department of Art History in the School of Arts & Sciences. A renowned scholar and teacher of American art who has been at Penn for almost 20 years, Shaw is also a highly experienced curator. She has served as senior historian, director of research, publications, and scholarly programs, and acting chief curator at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, and has been the faculty curator of shows at the Arthur Ross Gallery (ARG), ICA, and Penn Museum. She has curated and/or been the primary editor of catalogues on dozens of major shows, including “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art,” “Every Eye is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States,” and a forthcoming exhibition as part of America’s 250th birthday celebrations in 2026 at the ARG. She is also the author of “The Art of Remembering: Essays on Black Art and History,” “Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker,” and numerous major essays and reviews.

“As the inaugural faculty director of the Arthur Ross Gallery, I plan to foster creativity and critical thinking, providing a platform for individual expression and a welcoming space for collective learning,” said Shaw. “I see the Ross as a unique space on campus where we can lift up the work of Penn’s world class faculty, students, and alumni, as well as showcase beautiful objects and present challenging conceptual projects from across time and around the world.”

Shaw will work closely with ARG director of exhibitions and curatorial affairs Emily Zimmerman on initiatives expanding the Gallery’s dynamic presence on campus. The news advances In Principle and Practice, the University’s strategic framework, accelerating interdisciplinary activities and expanding opportunities for Penn to create, exhibit, study, and research the arts across campus and in Philadelphia.