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.

Roglán was truly at home in the galleries and with the works of art themselves. At the Meadows Museum, he oversaw a number of important exhibitions that covered a wide range of time periods and materials, including Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso (December 11, 2005–February 26, 2006), which was based on the research he completed for his dissertation; Balenciaga and His Legacy: Haute Couture from the Texas Fashion Collection (February 4–June 17, 2007); From the Temple and the Tomb: Etruscan Treasures from Tuscany (January 25-May 17, 2009); Between Heaven and Hell: The Drawings of Jusepe de Ribera (March 12 – June 11, 2017); and Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929–1936 (September 9, 2018-January 6, 2019).

“As a scholar, international arts leader, colleague and my dear friend, Mark Roglán brought great elegance, enthusiasm, and complete expertise to every aspect of his life,” said Samuel Holland, Algur H. Meadows Dean of Meadows School of Arts. “His legacy will continue in each scholar who studies the museum’s treasures, each visitor who leaves inspired, and each one of us who strives to continue his vision for the museum.”

Roglán was a gifted negotiator and networker who worked tirelessly to bring the very best Spanish art to the Meadows Museum in the form of groundbreaking loans and acquisitions, many of which represented the first presence of major works of Spanish art in America. He brought Algur Meadows’s dream of establishing “a small Prado for Texas” to fruition. During Roglán’s tenure, the Meadows approximately doubled the size of its permanent collection of Spanish art (often thanks to a matching fund established by The Meadows Foundation) through

the acquisition of more than 200 pieces that greatly expanded the chronological depth of the collection as well as the range of media represented. These acquisitions included Francisco de Goya's Portrait of Mariano Goya, the Artist's Grandson, (1827); Mariano Fortuny y Marsal's Beach at Portici (1874); Salvador Dalí's The Fish Man (L'homme poisson) (1930) and what is now the earliest painting in the collection, Pere Vall's Saints Benedict and Onophrius (c. 1410). Key works of sculpture and works-on-paper such as Jaume Plensa’s Sho (2007) and Goya’s drawing Visions (c. 1819–23) were also added, ensuring the Meadows could offer the community a more meaningful and comprehensive view of the art of Spain.

“Mark Roglán possessed the rare ability to bring the arts to life,” said Peter M. Miller, president and CEO of The Meadows Foundation. “Through the art he acquired, the exhibitions he planned, and the scholarship he advanced, he opened our eyes to the culture and beauty of Spain. The Meadows Foundation is honored to have been his partner in bringing the culture of Spain to Texas.”

In 2004 Roglán orchestrated the long-term loan of ten important Medieval and Early- Renaissance Spanish paintings and sculptures from the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, many of which remain to this day among visitors’ favorite displays at the Meadows. In conjunction with the 400th anniversary of the publication of Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote de La Mancha, he secured the first major exhibition of Spanish tapestries to be shown in the United States. The exhibit, Weaving the Legend of Don Quijote: 18th-Century Tapestries for the Royal Court of Spain (September 15–November 13, 2005). As the exhibition’s only venue, the Meadows Museum drew record crowds and generated the highest per-week attendance of any exhibition since the museum building opened in 2001.

In 2010 Roglán established a multifaceted collaboration with the Museo del Prado that brought three major loans to Dallas for their exhibition and study, producing new publications for each: El Greco’s Pentecost (1596-1600), Jusepe de Ribera’s Mary Magdalene (1640-41) and Diego Velázquez’s Philip IV (1623-27). Roglán’s success with securing loans extended to private collectors, too; he brought the collections of Mexican telecom magnate Juan Antonio Pérez Simón; Spanish pharmaceutical billionaire Juan Abelló and his wife, Anna Gamazo; and Spain’s Duke of Alba to the Meadows.

Roglán’s vision extended to international diplomacy, in which he believed art and museums could play a key role. His work in this area developed new relationships that brought the Meadows to the fore of international relations. He regularly participated in diplomatic activities, including the signing of a sister cities agreement between Dallas and Valencia in 2007; the American Airlines inaugural nonstop flight to Madrid in 2009; and the Dallas Mayoral Economic missions to Spain in 2010 and 2013. Confirming the strength of the international alliance between the Meadows Museum and Spain, King Juan Carlos I of Spain bestowed one of the country’s greatest honors, the Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Católica [Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic] upon Roglán in 2010.

Perhaps the most important diplomatic event recently hosted by the museum was the unprecedented 2019 conversation between the directors of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and New York’s Museum of Modern Art, together with scholars and diplomats, to address the Russian moratorium on loans to U.S. art museums. Following an insightful exchange moderated by Roglán, the participants agreed on their desire to end the ban on loans, and the extraordinary event resulted in a pledge to work on "texts of mutual guarantees, joint demonstrative projects and pinpoint exchanges, as well as the creation of a bilateral agreement on the protection of exhibitions," as reported on the Hermitage’s website.

Before coming to the Meadows Museum at SMU, Roglán worked as a curatorial fellow and a research associate in the 19th-century painting and sculpture department of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain. Prior to his tenure at the Prado, he served as a drawings department assistant with the Fogg Museum at Harvard University. Roglán received master's degrees in both world history and art history, and a doctorate in 19th- and 20th-century art from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. In 2013 he earned an MBA from the Cox School of Business at SMU.

Dr. Roglán is preceded in death by his father, Manuel Roglán Lombarte, earlier this year. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen Roglán, and their four children; a brother in Atlanta; and his mother in Madrid. Contributions in his memory can be made to either the Meadows Museum Art Acquisitions Fund (P.O. Box 750357, Dallas, TX 75275-0357) or UT Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center (P.O. Box 910888, Dallas, TX 75391-0888).

About the Meadows Museum

The Meadows Museum is the leading U.S. institution focused on the study and presentation of the art of Spain. In 1962, Dallas businessman and philanthropist Algur H. Meadows donated his private collection of Spanish paintings, as well as funds to start a museum, to Southern Methodist University. The museum opened to the public in 1965, marking the first step in fulfilling Meadows’s vision to create “a small Prado for Texas.” Today, the Meadows is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain. The collection spans from the 10th to the 21st centuries and includes medieval objects, Renaissance and Baroque sculptures, and major paintings by Golden Age and modern masters.