Nantucket Events

Roby Art Collection Exhibited on Island

Avid art collector and long-time summer resident Sara Roby was a strong supporter of many local arts and cultural organizations throughout her time on Nantucket Island. Less than a decade after World War II, she started to support artists through the purchase and exhibition of their work, and she amassed a remarkable collection of early- and mid-twentieth century American artists.

Concerned that figurative art was being eclipsed, Roby established a foundation in her name in the 1950s to collect art that recognized the beauty as well as the tensions of modern life.

In 1986, her collection was given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). This summer, the Nantucket Historical Association is pleased to present a major traveling exhibition from SAAM entitled Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection.

The exhibition, which will be on display in the Nantucket Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street through October, is expertly curated by Virginia Mecklenburg, Chief Curator at SAAM and includes more than 40 works of art by internationally recognized American artists including Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Edward Hopper, and Wolf Kahn. The collection is a reflection of the multivalent realities of contemporary life and of human emotion at its most elemental and universal.

The NHA Board of Trustees is grateful to Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director at SAAM; Virginia Mecklenburg, Chief Curator at SAAM; and Joseph Roby, Sara’s son, for partnering with the NHA to present this ground-breaking traveling exhibition and bring the collection back to the island for all to enjoy again.

Articles by Date from 2012