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Sarah Ganz Blythe To Serve as Director of Harvard Art Museums

Sarah Ganz Blythe's term as director of the Harvard Art Museums will begin on Aug. 12, the University announced Wednesday.
Sarah Ganz Blythe's term as director of the Harvard Art Museums will begin on Aug. 12, the University announced Wednesday. By Courtesy of Josephine Sittenfeld
By Elyse C. Goncalves, Crimson Staff Writer

Sarah Ganz Blythe, currently the deputy director for exhibitions, education, and programs at the Rhode Island School of Design, will serve as the next director of the Harvard Art Museums, the University announced Wednesday.

Her term as director will start on Aug. 12, according to the announcement. She will succeed current director Martha Tedeschi, who has served in the position since 2016 and oversaw the museum’s move to free admission in June 2023.

“Sarah brings to her role not only great knowledge, creativity, judgment, and leadership experience, but also a deep commitment to teaching, learning, collaboration, and engagement with our Museums’ extraordinary communities,” interim Harvard Provost John F. Manning ’82 said in a press release.

Ganz Blythe began her tenure at the RISD Museum as their director of education in 2009. She served for six years as the museum’s deputy director for exhibitions, education, and programs, followed by a stint as interim director in 2021, according to the RISD website.

She has also held positions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and published two books.

In a press release, interim University President Alan M. Garber ’76 lauded the teaching credentials of Ganz Blythe, who has taught at RISD, Brown University, and Wellesley College.

“Among her many strengths, her creativity in engaging students and her passion for teaching ensure that the Museums will extend their excellence as an academic and cultural resource as they enter a new era,” Garber said.

As director, Ganz Blythe will inherit controversy over the name of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Members of the Sackler family largely owned Purdue Pharma, the company that developed and sold OxyContin. Though Arthur Sackler died before Purdue developed the drug, critics argue that his marketing practices were employed to popularize the drug and enable the opioid crisis.

The University is currently reviewing a proposal to remove Sackler’s name from the building.

Ganz Blythe said in a press release that she hopes to build on Tedeschi’s work during her time as director.

“I am thrilled to return and have the opportunity to guide this dynamic institution as it collaborates with students, faculty, staff, artists, and community partners,” she said.

Correction: June 12, 2024

A previous version of this article mistated the class year for interim University President Alan M. Garber. He graduated in 1976, not 1974.

—Staff writer Elyse C. Goncalves can be reached at elyse.goncalves@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @e1ysegoncalves or on Threads @elyse.goncalves.

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