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Philbrook Welcomes Sara O’Keeffe, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

January 9, 2020 (Tulsa, Okla.) Philbrook Museum of Art welcomes Sara O’Keeffe as the new Nancy E. Meinig Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Most recently, she served as associate curator at the New Museum, New York, where she worked since 2013. Prior to that, she was in the Curatorial Department at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011-2013).

“We are thrilled to welcome Sara to Philbrook,” said Philbrook Director Scott Stulen. “She brings extensive experience in a wide variety of contemporary practices, willingness to experiment and passion for art and artists. Sara’s collaborative spirit is an ideal fit for Philbrook as we build a more inclusive and relevant experience with an increased focus on Contemporary Art.”

During her time at the New Museum, Sara was part of the curatorial teams that organized “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon,” a group exhibition that investigated gender’s place in contemporary art and culture (with Johanna Burton and Natalie Bell, 2017) and “Triennial: Surround Audience,” a survey of early career artists that explored the effects of an increasingly connected world marked by corporate and governmental surveillance (with Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin, 2015).

She has curated and co-curated projects with many artists including Morgan Bassichis, A.K. Burns, Jeffrey Gibson, Wynne Greenwood, Martine Gutierrez, House of Ladosha, Ariel René Jackson, Carolyn Lazard, Shaun Leonardo, Tau Lewis, Troy Michie, Devin N. Morris, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Sable Elyse Smith, Christopher Udemezue, and Sarah Zapata among others. 

While at the New Museum, she oversaw the museum’s residency program with Johanna Burton. Through this program, she organized a number of events with artists working across fashion, music, dance, and performance. In 2016, she organized the New Museum’s first ever youth summit “Scamming the Patriarchy” developed by an emerging generation of artists, writers, and activists. The summit included more than 20 workshops organized around five guiding principles: healing, self-love, skill building, political education, and empowerment.

“Sara brings great depth, experience, and forward-looking energy to the curatorial team at Philbrook and to the entire community,” said Philbrook Chief Curator Catherine Whitney. “Her programming and curatorial accomplishments, as well as her initiatives with living artists, are perfectly aligned with the directions in which we are moving.”

Sara’s first exhibition at Philbrook will be in the fall of 2020, exploring questions of identity and representation in the United States, drawing from the renowned collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody, which boasts work by today’s most groundbreaking emerging and established artists including Diedrick Brackens, Mark Bradford, Anthea Hamilton, David Hammons, Howardena Pindell, Tschabalala Self, Pope.L, Faith Ringgold, Kara Walker, and Kehinde Wiley.

For a complete listing of upcoming exhibitions or highlights from the Philbrook collection, visit

About Philbrook:

At Philbrook Museum of Art, we are committed to being Tulsa’s most welcoming and engaging cultural institution. Through bold action and strategic investment, we create a space for new ideas, diverse stories and perspectives, and social connection. Housed in the former Midtown home (built 1927) of Genevieve and Waite Phillips, the Philbrook Collection has grown to over 14,500 objects with a focus on American, Native American, and European art. Philbrook Museum of Art opened on October 25, 1939, with the goal of being an institution “housing, preserving, and displaying therein works of art, literature, relics and curios, including those representative of the native North American Peoples.” Serving over 160,000 visitors annually, Philbrook shines a light on Tulsa’s storied and complex past while building a diverse and creative vision of the city’s future.