Retiring in 2014 after 40 rich and successful years as a curator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, Suzanne Folds McCullagh was appointed Director of the Gray Collection Trust in 2016. She loved the privilege and stimulation of working with the legendary Richard Gray until his demise in May 2018. In her role as Director, she works with the remarkable collection of more than 150 works of art on paper acquired by Richard and his wife, Mary L. Gray, over the past 50 years. Dr. McCullagh arranged an exhibition of the Grays’ collection, including paintings and sculpture, at the Art Institute in 2010. Since that time, she has helped them acquire an additional 36 works on paper, prompting plans for a comprehensive catalogue and exhibition at the Art Institute in 2020. The catalogue will explore the way these works integrate with the collection, and how they relate to one another.
Dr. McCullagh joined the Art Institute in 1975 as Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Prints and Drawings, and steadily advanced through the department as Assistant Curator and Associate Curator. In 1987, she was appointed Curator of Earlier Prints and Drawings, and her position was endowed in 2001 as the Anne Vogt Fuller and Marion Titus Searle Curator. In 2011, she took over as Department Chair. In addition to her curatorial work, Dr. McCullagh served as co-coordinator of the Museum and School’s Self-Study and Long-Range Plan in 1980. She also served as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Indemnification Panel, director of the Print Council of America and of the Arts Club of Chicago, and a member of the visiting committees of the Snite Museum at Notre Dame, the Smith College Museum of Art, and—most recently—the Harvard Art Museums.
Dr. McCullagh has also been very involved in numerous educational institutions, serving on the boards of North Shore Country Day School, College of the Atlantic, Groton School, Hobart and William Smith College, and Harvard University Graduate School. She has served also on the boards of the Northeast Harbor Library, Landmarks Preservation, and the Woman’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Dr. McCullagh prepared for her endeavors by earning a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College in 1973 (having spent the 1971–72 year at Williams College), and both a Master of Arts and a PhD from Harvard University in 1974 and 1981, respectively. As part of her training, she served as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and as the curatorial assistant-in-charge of the Print Department at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. Her passion for Italian art stemmed from a Smith summer seminar on Michelangelo held in Florence, Italy, by James Holderbaum. She finds master drawings to be most intriguing because they show the hand of the artist so clearly and reveal their place in time and geography.
Looking to the future, Dr. McCullagh hopes to continue her quest to proselytize the importance of Old Master drawings, organize other exhibitions, and continue writing on the subject.