On July 5, Stanford will be welcoming Veronica Roberts as the new John and Jill Fredienrich Director at the Cantor Arts Center.
“I am delighted that Veronica Roberts will join Stanford arts leadership as the new director of the Cantor,” Deborah Cullinan, vice president for the arts, said in a Stanford News release. “She brings a deep connection to her hometown Bay Area region and a solid reputation as a collaborative and generous leader. She is eager to lead the development of a new strategic vision for the Cantor that invigorates and amplifies the role that an art museum can play in its campus community, its region and its field.”
Roberts has had a long career in curation. The Bay Area native is set to leave her role as curator of modern and contemporary art at the University of Texas at Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art, which she has held since 2013. Blanton put on a number of notable exhibitions during Roberts’s tenure: national touring displays of “Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser” and “Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt”; work uplifting Texan artists like Vincent Valdez and Donald Moffett; and a collaboration with the UT Austin’s Black Studies program to bring Charles White’s work on campus. Roberts also worked with Ellsworth Kelly to create “Austin,” a 2,715-square-foot stone chapel-sculpture with colored glass windows that opened in early 2018.
Before the Blanton Museum, Roberts held curatorial positions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum. She also served as Director of Research for the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing Catalogue Raisonné. Roberts earned her master’s from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her bachelor’s in art history from Williams College.
“I am thrilled to be returning to the Bay Area and to a museum I visited countless times with my grandmother, who volunteered for the Cantor,” Roberts said to Stanford News. “I look forward to sharing the work of many of the most exciting regional, national and international artists working today at the museum and working with the campus, communities across the Bay Area and a global network of alumni supporters to ensure that the Cantor remains an integral part of the intellectual lives of students, faculty, staff and museum visitors.”
Roberts’ direction of leadership is committed to inclusion: “I firmly believe that institutions can thrive only if diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and kindness are modeled internally and communicated outwardly,” she told Stanford News.
The John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Cantor Arts position has been vacant for two years; the museum has been overseen during this time by two interim co-directors: Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, Burton and Deedee McMurtry Curator at the Cantor and director of the curatorial fellowship program; and Maude Brezinski, executive director of development for the arts at Stanford. The previous director, Susan Dackerman, abruptly stepped down after a Daily investigation exposed an alleged toxic work culture at the University’s art museum. The director before Dackerman, Connie Wolf, resigned suddenly after serving four years in the role. According to the University job posting, the Cantor director is responsible for managing museum organization and finance, engaging with diverse communities, centering the Cantor in campus life and developing an “art institution of the future.”