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Philadelphia Museum of Art on July 5, 2020. Credit: Chase Sutton

The Philadelphia Museum of Art named Sasha Suda, current director of the National Gallery of Canada, as its director and CEO on June 7.

Suda will replace Timothy Rub, who announced that he would be stepping down as the museum’s leader in July 2022, having served in the position for 13 years. As director, he oversaw the completion of a $233 million dollar reinvigoration project for the museum. Rub was previously criticized for his handling of a former museum manager who faced sexual harassment allegations.

Suda will be the third female director of the museum, following Jean Sutherland Boggs, director from 1978 to 1982, and Anne d'Harnoncourt, director from 1982 until her death in 2008.

Suda earned her bachelor's degree at Princeton University, her master's degree in art history at Williams College, and her Ph.D. in medieval manuscripts at New York University. She has served as director of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario since 2019. 

Suda began her career in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval department, serving in multiple roles between 2003 and 2011. She then served in several positions at the Art Gallery of Ontario, including Curator of European Art and chair of prints and drawings.

The announcement comes in the midst of the museum’s employees' longstanding struggle for a fairer contract and increased worker protections. While the museum employees voted to unionize in summer of 2020, they have faced difficulty in the bargaining process for greater worker protections, and rallied this year in April.

Adam Rizzo, the union’s president and museum educator, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he is hopeful for Suda to take the responsibility of director seriously. He also hopes that Suda decisively addresses problems facing museum employees, including “low pay, unaffordable health care, bad parental leave policies, harassment, and overuse of temporary and termed positions.”

However, chair of the museum's Board of Trustees Leslie Anne Miller holds that “the institution has not run away from its problems; we have confronted them head on." Likewise, Suda told the Inquirer that her main goal will be “listening really deeply to staff and all of the communities that the PMA exists to serve.”

Suda will begin her role as director on September 21, officially becoming the fourteenth director of the museum in its 145 year history.