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Sarah Kennel

Donald and Marilyn Keough Family Curator of Photography​

Sarah Kennel

Sarah Kennel is the High Museum of Art’s Donald and Marilyn Keough Family Curator of Photography. She joined the High in July 2019 from the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts, where she oversaw an extensive collection of photographs dating from 1839 to the present and managed an active and globally oriented photography program. Also while at PEM, she co-curated the critically acclaimed touring exhibition Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings, organized by the PEM and the National Gallery of Art, which opened at the High in October 2019. In addition, she developed the first strategic plan for the PEM’s photography collection’s care and growth, established the exhibition program for its dedicated photography gallery, and spearheaded important gifts.

Kennel previously served for nine years as a curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where she helped oversee the photography collection and manage an active exhibition, acquisition, and research program. Highlights include exhibitions and accompanying catalogues for Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris (2013), Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929: When Art Danced with Music (2013), The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Past 100 Years (2012), and In the Darkroom: Photographic Processes before the Digital Age (2009).

As an art historian, Kennel has written and contributed to many publications, including the catalogue for Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings (with co-curator Sarah Greenough of the National Gallery of Art), which was awarded best photographic book at the 2018 Festival International du Livre d’Art et du Film. She has taught at Princeton University, the University of California, Berkeley, and George Washington University, and her numerous fellowships and awards include the Samuel H. Kress Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellowship and the Mary Davis Predoctoral Fellowship at the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, both at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Kennel earned a doctorate and an MA in art history from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA from Princeton University.