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(Philadelphia, PA) – Moore College of Art & Design is pleased to announce that Susan Fisher Sterling will be this year’s Commencement speaker and will be receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the College. Sterling is Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. She has built her career and the stature of the museum around the message of equity for women through the example of excellence in the arts.

Moore’s 166th Commencement will be held on Sunday, May 17 at 11 am in Aviator Park, at the corner of Race Street and The Parkway, across from the College.

When she signed on as associate curator of the new museum in 1988, Sterling had just graduated from Princeton University with an MA and a Ph.D. in Art History, specializing in modern and contemporary art. As the museum’s associate curator, curator of modern and contemporary art and then chief curator/deputy director, she organized and oversaw exhibitions and publications on a wide range of contemporary women artists and topics for the museum for 20 years. These included well-received monographic exhibitions of artists Carrie Mae Weems, Sarah Charlesworth, Chakaia Booker, Hollis Sigler, and Niki de Saint Phalle, and others.

Standouts among her thematic exhibitions are two cutting-edge international shows focused on contemporary women artists from Brazil, UltraModern and Virgin Territory. She also was the force behind bringing major traveling exhibitions to the museum, including Inside the Visible, A History of Women Photographers, and WACK: Art and the Feminist Revolution.

Sterling’s final projects as chief curator/deputy director were Role Models: Feminine Identity in Contemporary American Photography (2009), a ground-breaking look at modern and postmodern photography, and the creation of the New York Avenue Sculpture Project (2010), a public-private partnership featuring changing installations of monumental public art by contemporary women in the heart of Washington, D.C.

She has authored many brochures, catalogues, and books during her tenure at NMWA, and most recently contributed an essay to Eva Hesse 1965, published by Yale University Press in 2013.

During her five-year tenure, the NMWA has flourished despite tough times. In 2012-13, NMWA marked its 25th anniversary with major celebrations and accomplishments. The most important of these came in September, 2013 when NMWA achieved its Legacy of Women in the Arts Endowment goal of $50 million.

Among Sterling’s honors are Orders of Merit from Brazil and Norway, the President’s Award of the Women’s Caucus for Art and selection in 2011 as one of ArtTable’s 30 most influential professional women in the visual arts. She is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, American Alliance of Museums, College Art Association, ArtTable, QM2 Directors Roundtable and the International Women’s Forum.


The National Museum of Women in the Arts brings recognition to the achievements of women artists of all periods and nationalities by exhibiting, preserving, acquiring, and researching art by women and by teaching the public about their accomplishments.  Founded in 1987 by Wilhelmina and Wallace Holladay, NMWA is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to advancing women’s creative contributions. By bringing to light remarkable women artists of the past while also promoting the best women artists working today, the museum directly addresses the gender imbalance in the presentation of art in the U.S. and abroad, thus assuring great women artists a place of honor now and into the future. For information, visit


Moore College of Art & Design educates students for careers in art and design. Founded in 1848, Moore is the nation's first and only women's art college. Moore's student-focused environment and professionally active faculty form a dynamic community in the heart of Philadelphia's cultural district. The College offers ten bachelor of fine arts degrees for women. Coeducational graduate programs were launched in summer, 2009. In addition, Moore provides many valuable opportunities in the arts through The Galleries at Moore, continuing education programs for professional adults, the 91-year-old acclaimed Young Artists Workshop for girls and boys grades 1-12, The Art Shop and the Sculpture Park.  For more information, visit

Published on April 1st, 2015