Sarah Roberts

Senior Director of Curatorial Affairs

Sarah Roberts smiles in front of greenery. She is a white woman with grey-brown shoulder length hair, wearing glasses and a light blue sweater.

As Senior Director of Curatorial Affairs, Roberts oversees the Foundation’s significant Artwork and Archival Collections and the Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné project. Roberts—who co-curated the recent traveling retrospective of Mitchell’s work and co-authored its accompanying catalogue—joins the Foundation from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), where she has worked since 2004.

Sarah Roberts brings over two decades of curatorial experience to her new position at the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Since 2004, she has served in progressive leadership roles in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the SFMOMA, and since 2020 as Andrew W. Mellon Curator and Head of Painting and Sculpture. In this capacity, she led the curatorial department in further developing its acquisitions and exhibitions programs as part of the museum’s overall strategy, while remaining active as a curator.

A specialist in post-war American art, Roberts has organized many significant exhibitions at SFMOMA, including major presentations of the work of Robert Rauschenberg (2017), Louise Bourgeois (2017-19), and Frank Bowling (2023). She is also the curator of SFMOMA’s upcoming exhibition Amy Sherald: American Sublime, the first mid-career survey of the painter’s work, which opens at SFMOMA in November 2024, and will then travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Roberts co-curated, with Katy Siegel, the major Joan Mitchell retrospective that opened at SFMOMA in September 2021 before traveling to the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. She also served as research director and primary author of SFMOMA’s Rauschenberg Research Project, an award-winning digital publication.

Prior to joining SFMOMA, Roberts held curatorial positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Roberts earned her B.A. in Sculpture and Metalsmithing from the University of Texas at Austin and her M.A. in History of Art and Architecture from Brown University, where she also achieved ABD status as a Ph.D. candidate with research focused on abstraction and nationalism in modern British art.

In addition to her curatorial work, Roberts has contributed to numerous publications, including a text in Frank Bowling’s Americas, published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and essays on paintings and prints by Mitchell in The Keithley Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art, both in 2022. Her essay “Quietness in the Ordinary” appeared in the exhibition catalogue Robert Rauschenberg, published by Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2016, and the essays “Ellsworth Kelly,” “Sol LeWitt,” “Agnes Martin,” and “Cy Twombly” were included in the 2015 publication Icônes Américanes, published by SFMOMA and Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux. She authored the institutional chronology and co-edited San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: 75 Years of Looking Forward, 2010. She co-authored and co-edited Joan Mitchell (Yale University Press, 2021), a companion to the Mitchell retrospective, for which she and co-author Katy Siegel conducted extensive research in the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s artwork and archives collections. She has lectured widely on topics related to post-war American art at institutions such as the Blanton Museum of Art, the University of California at Davis, and the College Art Association, on topics ranging from the work of specific artists to broader themes like digital publishing in art history and oral history strategies for artist archives.