Sarah Schleuning, the High Museum’s curator of decorative arts and design since 2011, will depart the institution to assume a new role as the Margot B. Perot senior curator of decorative arts and design at the Dallas Museum of Art beginning March 5. Schleuning has had a notable tenure at the High overseeing major special exhibitions including two of the museum’s top ten most-visited shows.
“I’m excited to take everything I had the opportunity to learn here and continue to explore it,” she told ArtsATL in a recent interview. “It isn’t about putting design and aesthetics in a box. It’s about opening them up and saying there are so many points of view and points of entry.”
In addition to popular exhibitions inside the museum such as Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas in 2014 and Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion in 2015, Schleuning memorably oversaw a multiyear initiative to animate the High’s outdoor Carroll Slater Sifly Piazza. The project began in 2014 with the site-specific commission Mi Casa, Your Casa by Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena followed by Los Trompos (The Spinning Tops) by the same team in 2015. The series continued with Spanish designer Jaime Hayon’s installation Tiovivo in 2016 and Merry Go Zoo in 2017. As ArtsATL critics noted, the installations helped bring a sense of whimsical play and accessibility to the piazza and museum.
The recently opened exhibition Joris Laarman: Design in the Digital Age, Schleuning’s last in her current position, adheres to an ongoing theme in her curatorial approach: seeking to form relationships with young contemporary designers and exploring their ideas for using design to extend visitor engagement. “I suffer from a sort of creative curiosity,” said Schleuning of her passion for nurturing long-term relationships with contemporary artists and designers. During her tenure, Schleuning also helped grow the High’s permanent collection by overseeing acquisitions such as Jaime Hayon’s Green Chicken, Paul Frankl’s Dressing Table and Joris Laarman’s Heatwave Radiator.
As a senior curator at DMA, Schleuning will be responsible for the museum’s decorative arts and design collection, considered one of the foremost in the United States. In her new role, Schleuning will also oversee arts and design exhibition planning, development, scholarship and future acquisition efforts. A particular focus will be the expansion of the museum’s contemporary holdings. Schleuning says that the door remains open in her new position for future projects and collaborations at the High.
“The big hope for me is the ripple effect, the intangible,” she said, reflecting on her time as a curator in Atlanta, “that in 20 years I’m going to meet someone who’ll say, ‘I used to go spin on those tops at the High.’ And I’m going to be able to say, ‘I was part of that.’ I think that’s what you always want.”