Selma Holo is Professor of Art History in the College of Letters Arts and Sciences and the Director of the graduate program in Museum Studies. She is also the Director of USC Fisher Gallery, the University's art museum. Prior to assuming her positions at the University of Southern California she was Curator of Acquisitions at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, where she assisted Simon between 1977 and 1981 in his development of that museum's superb art collection. Holo began her career as a lecturer at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, in 1973.
Holo received her BA degree in Spanish language and literature from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She later earned her MA degree in art history from the City University of New York and her Ph.D. degree in art history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her list of publications reflects her expertise in Goya, Picasso, Dali and Ribera, four of Spain's most significant artists. More recently Selma Holo has become engaged with the study of museums as institutions -- and their influence on the shaping of civic life.
Holo is frequently called upon to chair the American Association of Museum's accreditation site visitation committees. Examples of the museums for which she has undertaken this responsibility are the Smith College Museum of Art in Northhampton Massachusetts, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the art museum of Oberlin College in Ohio, and the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. Holo feels strongly that what she has learned from this service to the community of museum professionals is reflected in the ways she has educated graduate students in USC?s own Museum Studies Program.
When, in 1994, Holo received a Senior Fulbright Research award for Spain, her work on Spanish artists and her growing interest in today's museums intersected. Since then she has published and lectured in Spain and Latin America extensively about the future of museums in those regions. She was invited to be one of the few West Coast representatives to the first Pan American conference of museum professionals held in 1997 in Costa Rica. At this conference cooperative hemispheric positions with regard to stolen cultural properties, museum education, and the creation of sustainable cultural communities were hammered out for the first time. She has also been invited to lecture in several cities in Brazil on the new museum architecture and its relationship to emerging constructions of urbanistic life. She is a familiar figure in Mexico?s museum world and has been invited to lecture in Venezuela and Argentina as well. Her book: Beyond the Prado: Museums and Identity in Post-Franco Spain was published by the the Smithsonian Press in 1999 and then by Liverpool University Press in 2001. It ws reissued in Spanish by the Akal Press in 2002.
Holo's next book, Oaxaca at the Crossroads: Managing Memory, Negotiating Change is dedicated to the relationship of the arts and the changing political and urban life of one of Mexico's most art-rich cities. It will be published in September, 2004 by the Smithsonian Institution Press.
USC Fisher Gallery and Museum Studies Program have, under her leadership organized almost a hundred exhibitions, a number of which have traveled nationally. The Gallery and the Program have been the recipients of many awards and grants. Just a few examples follow: the National Endowment for the Arts, the Getty Trust, the Kress Foundation, the Zumberge Grant for Interdisciplinary Research, the Warhol Foundation the Del Amo Foundation, the National Museum Act, the Institute for Museum Services, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Peter Norton Foundation the California Arts Council, the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, the Armand Hammer Foundation, AT&T, the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, the Roth Family Foundation, and the Friends of the Arts of Mexico.