SMU mourns loss of Meadows Museum director Mark Roglán

Celebrated scholar of Spanish art leaves profound global legacy

October 7, 2021

SMU mourns the loss of Mark A. Roglán, renowned director of the University’s Meadows Museum, to cancer on October 5. His death at the age of 50 comes on the heels of his recent 20th anniversary leading the institution, the foremost center in the United States for exhibition, research and education in the arts and culture of Spain.

A public memorial service is pending.

“Under Mark Roglán’s dynamic leadership, the Meadows Museum has become one of SMU’s brightest beacons,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Through his unflagging devotion, energy and intellect, Mark built a prestigious museum and collection that brings great honor to the vision of its founder, Algur Meadows. Mark leaves behind a profound legacy.”

Under Roglán’s guidance the museum tripled attendance, developed a major program of international exhibitions; and made major acquisitions nearly doubling the permanent collection of Spanish art. His tenure at the helm of the museum was marked by major institutional milestones: the construction of a new sculpture garden and outdoor spaces, the prolific publication of insightful research, the creation of meaningful fellowships and accessible educational programs. His leadership was characterized by the formation of strategic alliances with many of the world’s most prestigious arts organizations–including national museums in the US, UK, a number of European countries, and especially Spain.

Roglán raised millions of dollars in funding for the institution that he loved, most recently gifts totaling $6 million to establish a new research institute within the museum, further solidifying the Meadows Museum and SMU as the center for the study of Spanish art and culture in the United States.

A native of Madrid, Dr. Roglán joined the Meadows Museum as interim curator and adjunct assistant professor of art history in August 2001; he quickly rose to the role of curator of collections in January 2002 and senior curator in June 2004. Following an international search, he was appointed director in 2006. Seven years later, with a $1-million-dollar gift for the establishment of an endowment for his position that was matched by The Meadows Foundation, he became the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. On August 26 he presided over the founding of a new research institute within the museum, the Custard Institute for Spanish Art and Culture, established by gifts from the Custard family and The Meadows Foundation. The Custard’s gift named the director of the new institute in Roglán’s honor.

“Mark thrived within the special environment of a university museum. His vision to combine academic excellence with an esteemed art collection has inspired partnerships unique within in the art world,” said Linda Custard, SMU Trustee Emerita and Chair of the Meadows Museum Advisory Council. “His passion for sharing the art of Spain with the world will continue to enrich our lives. We honor him and will continue his legacy through the Custard Institute for Spanish Art and Culture.”

Roglán was a highly regarded scholar of 19th- and 20th-century Spanish art who authored, contributed to and edited for a number of groundbreaking volumes dedicated to the history of Spanish art, including Spanish Master Drawings from Dutch Public Collections (1500-1900) (2003); Fernando Gallego and His Workshop: The Altarpiece from Ciudad Rodrigo; Paintings from the Collection of the University of Arizona Museum of Art (2008); Collecting Spanish Art: Spain’s Golden Age and America’s Gilded Age (2012); Sorolla in America: Friends and Patrons (2015); Spanish Art in America (2017); Zurbarán: Jacob and his Twelve Sons, Paintings from Auckland Castle (2017); and Meadows Museum: A Handbook of the Collection (2021). He traveled widely to give lectures and served on the board of trustees for the Association of Art Museum Directors from 2015 to 2019. Roglán joined SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs as a fellow in 2017.