INTRODUCTIONS: Meet Daniel S. Palmer

CHIEF CURATOR, SCAD MUSEUM OF ART

Updated October 25, 2022 at 5:30 p.m.

Daniel S. Palmer is the chief curator at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Museum of Art (SCAD MOA). 

Originally from Connecticut, Palmer spent 15 years in New York City where he worked as a curator with Public Art Fund. Happy to leave behind New York’s frigid temperatures, he relocated to Savannah earlier this year in March after accepting the role at SCAD MOA.

So far, he is loving Savannah’s idyllic beauty and warm hospitality. Palmer first became acquainted with the Hostess City back in 2012 when he presented at a conference.

“I was completely charmed by the city and SCAD, and I was so impressed by the inaugural exhibitions on view at the museum. I continued to follow the institution’s incredible work over the years and often thought fondly about Savannah. When this incredible role became available, I knew it would be the perfect fit,” said Palmer.

Palmer started with SCAD MOA during the museum’s 2022 deFINE ART festival, which he considered “a wonderful introduction and a great opportunity to learn so much so quickly.” He cherishes his curatorial position and is motivated and inspired by the work.

“I’m deeply honored to have been entrusted with this opportunity. . . I get to work with an incredible team to oversee the exhibition program and to showcase the most interesting artists from around the world,” he said.

Palmer’s position involves a great deal of research and travel to connect with artists and share their work through compelling, accessible exhibitions and public programs. He enjoys connecting with artists but also relishes interacting with museum visitors and the student docents. Inspiring others is his favorite aspect of the job.

“I enjoy how much I always learn in the process of putting together an exhibition. Then, once it opens, I get to share that beauty and complexity with audiences through tours and conversations in the museum’s galleries surrounded by the art. That is always a really wonderful moment that I look forward to. It makes me so grateful to have this job,” Palmer explained.

With a Ph.D. and MPhil in art history, Palmer draws upon his expertise and experience “to bring the most interesting and important art in the world to the SCAD Museum of Art, [and] to further solidify our international reputation as a premier contemporary art museum.”

The museum is completely reconfigured twice a year, so the exhibitions are always fresh and current. 

Palmer’s vision for the museum is to emphasize the global diversity and the vastly different media and approaches to art making.

“There are so many fascinating voices working all around the planet that I know will inspire local communities and serve as an indispensable resource for SCAD students and alumni too,” Palmer added.

Palmer’s interest in art dates back to his youth. He recalls a large coffee table book that he found on his grandmother’s credenza growing up.

“I used to pore over it for hours, totally mystified and enthralled by its contents,” he recounted. “The second thing was an AP Art History class that I was lucky enough to take at a moment in high school when I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life. I really found my passion in studying art history,” he continued.

“I process the world around me through art. Artists are such incisive thinkers and really pioneers of the cultural avant-garde, so I look to them for guidance as I navigate life. I also gain so much beauty and meaning from the art that I’ve learned about, spent time with and have as a part of my life. . . For me, art really is life, and that’s something completely tangible and deeply personal,” he expressed.

Beyond his personal passion, Palmer believes that art is important more generally to the world for several reasons.

“Artists have something to say to us all. Most artists are thoroughly engaged with the social issues of their time, whether the finished artwork directly articulates that or not. . . Art is a lens through which we can analyze and understand the issues and conditions of our moment or those of generations past. It allows us to connect with profound truths,” he explained.

Outside of work, Palmer enjoys spending time with his wife and traveling the world. His other interests include literature, film and music. His newest hobby is a vintage motorcycle that he recently acquired.

Palmer encourages community members to come out to the SCAD MOA and enjoy what it has to offer.

“I’m always here at the SCAD Museum of Art to share the exhibitions. I hope [people] will come to the museum to experience all of the great public programs, tours, talks and other events we organize. . . I really love the Savannah community’s Southern hospitality and all the smiling faces around town. It just warms my heart. So, if you see me, feel free to say hello,” he said.

To learn more about the museum and the work Palmer does there, visit scadmoa.org


Published October 25, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

     

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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