Dalila Scruggs of Harvard Appointed as Smithsonian’s First Augusta Savage Curator for African American art

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has appointed Dalila Scruggs as the inaugural Augusta Savage Curator of African American Art. Her job is named after Augusta Savage, an artist, teacher, and community art program director in Harlem during the 1930s.

Scruggs will contribute to the museum’s exhibition program and collection priorities related to African American art.

She will also be participating in a large cross-departmental project dubbed “American Voices and Visions,” which aims to entirely rebuild the museum’s collection. Scruggs specializes in 19th and 20th-century arts, including painting, prints, sculpture, and photography.

Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, said, “I am thrilled to welcome Dalila Scruggs to SAAM as the inaugural Augusta Savage Curator of African American Art. SAAM is home to one of the world’s most significant collections of African American art, and I am delighted that Dr. Scruggs will provide fresh, insightful analysis to these works that inspire universal and specific themes about the African American and American experience.”

Scruggs had previously worked as the photography and print curator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture before joining the museum. In addition, she has served as a guest curator at the Brooklyn Museum since 2020. She formerly served as a curatorial fellow at the Williams College Museum of Art, an assistant curator of American art at the Brooklyn Museum, and a consultant curator at the University of Alabama’s Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art.

Sruggs earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from Cornell University and a doctorate in art and architecture history from Harvard University. From 2007 to 2008, Scruggs was a Terra Foundation for American Art Predoctoral Fellow through the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s prestigious fellowship program.

She begins working at the museum on April 22.



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