The Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles has announced the appointment of Matthew H. Robb as chief curator. Robb, who previously worked as curator of the arts of the Americas at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, will begin his new position on June 13.
Robb’s background in Native American, Oceanic, and African art is particularly suited to the Fowler Museum, which is noted for its collection of art and artifacts from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas. Robb is also a specialist in the art and archeology of ancient Mesoamerica. At the de Young, Robb conducted research on pieces in the institution’s permanent collection with a particular emphasis on murals from the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan. He additionally created a database of more than 500 examples of stone masks from Teotihuacan that now acts as a digital catalogue raisonné of these little-studied objects, a project resulting from Robb’s time as a scholar at the Getty Research Institute in 2015. Robb also was responsible for the institution’s acquisition of the Weisel Family Collection of Native American art.
Before his time at the de Young, Robb served as associate curator of the department of the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the St. Louis Art Museum, where he began his career as an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral curatorial fellow in 2007. There, he organized the first reinstallation of the institution’s ancient American collections in 30 years, and also headed the reinstallation of the African, Oceanic, and Native American collections. While there, Robb also worked to bring in the Donald Danforth Jr. collection of Plains Native American art.
Robb completed his undergraduate degree at Princeton in 1994, his master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin in 1999, and his Ph.D. at Yale in 2007. At Yale, his thesis on Teotihuacan compounds earned the Frances Blanshard Fellowship Fund.
Since then, Robb has lectured and written on subjects ranging from copper plaques of the ancient Midwest to the history of collecting pre-Columbian art in the 1950s and ’60s, and has lectured on pre-Columbian art at Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University. Robb has also worked as a visiting curator at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey.