NHA welcomes Smithsonian American Art Museum Traveling Exhibit this summer

NANTUCKET, MA – The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is pleased to present a major traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), which opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend.  Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection features works of art by internationally recognized American artists.

Sara Roby was a strong supporter of many local arts and cultural organizations throughout her time on Nantucket. She was an avid collector and amassed a remarkable collection of early- and mid-twentieth century American artists. Less than a decade after World War II, she started to support artists through the purchase and exhibition of their work. Her collection was given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in 1986.

Concerned that figurative art was being eclipsed, Roby established a foundation in her name in the 1950s to collect art that recognized the beauty as well as the tensions of modern life. The exhibition is expertly curated by Virginia Mecklenburg, Chief Curator at SAAM and includes over 40 works of art by notable artists Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Edward Hopper, and Wolf Kahn, among others. The collection is a reflection of the multivalent realities of contemporary life and of human emotion at its most elemental and universal.

Roby was a long-time summer resident who lived on island full time toward the end of her life, owning homes on Orange Street and Liberty Street.

The NHA Board of Trustees is grateful to Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director at SAAM; Virginia Mecklenburg, Chief Curator at SAAM; and Joseph Roby, Sara’s son, for partnering with the NHA to present this ground-breaking traveling exhibition and bring the collection back to the island for all to enjoy again.

Modern American Realism is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from the Sara Roby Foundation; Bonnie and Peter McCausland; Kelly Williams and Andrew Forsyth; and Jason Tilroe. The C. F. Foundation in Atlanta supports SAAM’s traveling exhibition program Treasures to Go.

An NHA Member Opening for the exhibit will be held at the Whaling Museum on Thursday, May 23, 6–7:30 p.m. and the exhibit will open to the public on Friday, May 24, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. For more information on the exhibit and the opening event, click here or call (508) 228-1894.

The NHA is honored to partner with SAAM and host an exhibit that has a unique connection to the island for local residents and visitors to enjoy through October.


Lead Image: © 2019 Heirs of Josephine Hopper / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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