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Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art names Emily Ballew Neff as Director

Emily Ballew Neff, a distinguished curator of American art and the art of the American West, and the founding Curator of American Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will be appointed Director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, pending approval by the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents.

In January 2014, she will assume the position vacated by Ghislain d’Humières, who served as Director of the museum since 2007 and left earlier this year to assume the position of Director and CEO of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky.

Neff has served as curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, since 1997. For many years, she worked closely with Peter Marzio, the museum’s late director, who was widely considered to be among the most outstanding museum directors in the United States and a trusted advisor to many cultural institutions.

At the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Neff established a significant presence for the museum in the field of American art, growing the museum’s collections by more than 30 percent, building a dynamic patron support group, organizing more than 20 exhibitions at the museum and coordinating 14 traveling exhibitions from other institutions. She has authored several major exhibition catalogs, numerous publications, and essays, including Charles M. Russell: The Masterworks in Oil and Bronze, published by the OU Press in conjunction with the Denver Art Museum. Known for organizing exhibitions that push the field of American art in new and innovative directions, Neff is also a lecturer and teacher, serving in 2010 as the H.E.R.E. Distinguished Lecturer at Rice University, Houston.

Neff will assume responsibilities at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art as OU prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2015, of which the museum’s almost 80-year tradition of encouraging an understanding of art and culture is an important part.