OU announced the appointment of its new director for the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Monday, pending the OU Board of Regents approval.
Thomas Brent Smith, an OU alumnus and the curator and director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum, has studied art since 1999. He attended Oklahoma Christian University to earn his bachelor’s degree in fine art. Smith received his master’s degree at OU and will return to his alma mater Nov. 1, according to a university release.
“I am delighted to return to the University of Oklahoma at this important time in its history, as both the university and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art have had a powerful influence on my life and career,” Smith said in the release. “It is an honor to serve as director of a museum that I consider to be the best among public universities. I am looking forward to working with the Board of Visitors and the university leadership, as well as the museum’s committed and talented staff, to continue to raise the profile and impact of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, both on campus and beyond.”
While studying at OU, Smith was a Robert S. and Grayce B. Kerr Foundation Fellow, and was awarded the Rachel Zelby Scholarship, according to the release. He was also a fellow at The Getty Leadership Institute, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver and currently serves as the president of The Museums West Consortium.
Smith has held various leadership positions throughout his career, including almost 13 years of service as the director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art and curator of art at the American West at the Tucson Museum of Art, according to the release.
Smith has received multiple awards for his work, including the Colorado Book Award and the Western Heritage Award for his written exhibition companion “Once Upon A Time… The Western: A New Frontier in Art and Film.” According to the release, his most recent publication, “The American West in Art,” serves as a selection of works produced in the western U.S. and housed at the Denver Art Museum. It also won a Colorado Book Award this year.
Smith is the second person to have earned a degree from OU and served as director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, according to the release. He will continue his many years of museum leadership as the Fred Jones’ director.
“We are thrilled to welcome Thomas Smith back to the University of Oklahoma,” OU Senior Vice President and Provost André-Denis Wright said in the release. “He is a creative, competent and visionary museum leader whose expertise building long-term financial structures and developing community partnerships will be an asset to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and our university as a whole.”
The Board of Regents’ next meeting is currently scheduled for Sept. 20-21.