RISD Museum announces Interim Director Sarah Ganz Blythe

PROVIDENCE, RI, November 10, 2020–The RISD Museum is pleased to announce that Sarah Ganz Blythe has been named Interim Director of the RISD Museum upon the retirement of John W. Smith at the end of December 2020.

Joining the RISD Museum in 2009 as Director of Education, Sarah Ganz Blythe has served as the Deputy Director for Exhibitions, Education, and Programs for the past 6 years during which she has collaborated with artists, students, and scholars to realize exhibitions, programs, and publications. Her work critically investigates the complicated histories of museums, art pedagogy, and interpretation practices. She was previously Director of Interpretation and Research at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ganz Blythe has a PhD in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

John W. Smith had served as Director of the RISD Museum since 2011. As one of the museum’s longest-serving directors, Smith leaves a legacy of progressive thinking in collecting and exhibition policy. During his tenure, he had devoted his attention to building the museum’s connections to the college and the city of Providence, expanding access through generous free-admission policies on Sundays and special memberships for newly naturalized U.S. citizens, Rhode Island artists, and others, overseeing the design and development of a range of new digital initiatives and expanding the museum’s commitment to artists.

“With a great staff and the support of the Board and President Somerson, we’ve been able to make significant strides in many areas over the past several years and I am very proud of all we’ve achieved. Since Sarah Ganz Blythe has officially been named Interim Director, I can step aside knowing that the work of the museum will be in the hands of an exceptional leader who can steward the museum with great care and professionalism over the coming months.” - John W. Smith.

A hiring committee consisting of museum staff, RISD faculty, and members of museum volunteer leadership has been formed, led by Museum Board of Governors Chairman Scott Burns. Koya Leadership Partners has been hired to recruit a diverse and extensive pool of candidates for the next museum director.