SJMA Appoints Susan Sayre Batton Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs

Release date 
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

For Immediate Release

Press contact: Sherrill Ingalls, 408.271.6872 or

SAN JOSE, California (July 17, 2015)— The San Jose Museum of Art today announced the appointment of Susan Sayre Batton as deputy director for curatorial affairs. Batton is a highly experienced arts administrator who comes to SJMA from Dia:Beacon, Dia Art Foundation’s museum located in Beacon, NY. In the newly created role of deputy director for curatorial affairs at the San Jose Museum of Art, Batton will oversee SJMA’s curatorial and exhibitions departments and provide leadership, vision, and management for the ongoing growth of the Museum’s core curatorial programs and initiatives. She will be responsible for all operational aspects of curatorial affairs and will be a key member of the senior staff team.

“I am thrilled to welcome Susan Sayre Batton to our staff,” said Susan Krane, Oshman Executive Director of SJMA. “She will be a dynamic leader for our curatorial program as well as a valuable addition to our creative senior staff team. Susan’s wide range of professional experience; her track record of fostering community partnerships; and her belief in new, cross-disciplinary approaches to public engagement is a clear match for the San Jose Museum of Art’s program. She will play an important role as we all, together, launch ever-more expansive exhibition initiatives, explore digital opportunities, and continue to build the collection into one of increasing prominence and scope. With proven managerial acumen and a commitment to scholarship, Susan will help us move SJMA forward into its next phase of growth, working in close concert with our energetic curators and excellent exhibitions team.”

“It is a pleasure and an honor to join the great team at SJMA, and I am eager to engage with cultural, civic, and business partners in this vibrant community. I am impressed by the talented and dedicated staff, who bring energy and enthusiasm to the Museum. I look forward to our work together to build upon the collection’s strong foundations and to support the development of creative, dynamic programs.” 

Batton served as managing director of Dia:Beacon from 2010 to 2015. From 2012 to 2015, she was also director of administration for Dia Art Foundation, an organization committed to supporting, presenting, and preserving extraordinary art projects. Located in a former factory on the Hudson River, Dia:Beacon presents the Dia’s renowned art collection, as well as special exhibitions, performances, lectures, and educational programs. During Batton's tenure, Dia:Beacon re-invigorated its education initiatives, increased attendance by 40%, and was awarded the Arts Mid-Hudson Executive's Art Award and the Business Excellence Award from the Economic Development Corporation. In 2012, Batton was awarded the BeaconArts Award for developing new partnerships with the arts and business community. Batton led Dia Art Foundation’s Utah Partnership for the stewardship of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, the legendary earthwork in the Great Salt Lake, Utah, and was a key player, with Dia’s leadership, in negotiating the acquisition of 30 major artworks for the collection. 

Previously, Batton was project director for Modern Views, an exhibition and publication project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation at The Glass House, Philip Johnson’s modern masterpiece. From 2005 to 2008, Batton was deputy director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, where she focused on staff development, strategic planning, and led the museum through its successful re-accreditation by the American Association of Museums. While there, she also organized the exhibition Won Ju Lim: In Many Things to Come (2006) and collaborated with curators on internationally touring exhibitions such as Hawaiian Modern: The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff (2007), with a catalogue published by Yale University Press. She has been a consultant to several museums, including the Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles, and the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA, and from 1993 to 1995 was associate director at Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies.

Batton received a BFA in studio art from Denison University, undertook postgraduate work in the Visual Arts Program at Princeton University, and trained in book and paper conservation at the Princeton University Library, where she was a Mellon Fellow. Thereafter, she was a National Endowment for the Arts fellow in the conservation department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. From 1995 to 2005, Batton directed a private practice in Los Angeles and provided art conservation and management consulting services to museums, collections, and art organizations, as well as public-arts advocacy for the Community Redevelopment Agency’s Hollywood Arts and Design Advisory Panel. Active on grant panels and boards regionally and nationally, Batton also recently joined the Marignoli di Montecorona Foundation advisory board, based in Spoleto, Italy. 

Batton will join SJMA’s staff in October. She will work closely with the Museum’s executive director to shape a dynamic exhibition program that advances the full range of SJMA’s artistic mission and achieves high standards for scholarship, creativity, and audience engagement. She will play a pivotal role in the growth of the collection, in concert with the curators, executive director, and Acquisitions Committee.


The San Jose Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time.

SJMA’s special exhibitions focus on modern and contemporary art. Widely recognized around the country as a stellar showcase for California artists, the Museum presents an array of exhibitions that examine the interface of art and new technologies, themes of current interest to the general public, or the master artists of our time. Recent exhibitions include: Beta Space: Diana Thater (2015); Postdate: Photography and Contemporary History in India (2015); Around the Table: food, creativity, community (2013); Questions from the Sky: New Work by Hung Liu (2013); Dive Deep: Eric Fischl and the Process of Painting (2012); and Mexicanisimo Through Artists’ Eyes (2012). 

The Museum’s burgeoning permanent collection includes over 2,500 modern and contemporary works of art: paintings, sculpture, installation, new media, photography, drawings, prints, and artists’ books. Widely known for supporting California artists, SJMA has earned a reputation for acquiring pivotal artists early in their careers. As San Jose has grown from an agricultural community into the capital of Silicon Valley, SJMA has expanded the focus of its collection to reflect the high-tech interests, dynamic cultural diversity, and international scope of its communities. The Museum remains committed to the work of California artists, yet now also strives to bring greater national and international context to the collection for the future. The collection includes works by Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, Jim Campbell, Enrique Chagoya, Jay DeFeo, Richard Diebenkorn, Willem de Kooning, Andy Goldsworthy, Philip Guston, Bari Kumar, Markus Linnenbrink, Louise Nevelson, Catherine Opie, Tony Oursler, Tino Rodriquez, Ben Rubin and Mark Hanson, Alison Saar, Jennifer Steinkamp, Masami Teraoka, and William T. Wiley. 

The San Jose Museum of Art is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, California. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 PM to 5 PM and until 8 PM or later on the third Thursday of each month. For more information, call 408-271-6840 or visit


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Programs at the San Jose Museum of Art are made possible by generous operating support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San José, and the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation.