Mark Roglán: Photo courtesy SMU

Mark Roglán was known here in the neighborhood and around the world as the longtime director of the Meadows Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University, a distinguished scholar of Spanish art and, as his friend Brian T. Allen at the National Review puts it, “the preeminent mover and shaker in collaborations between American and Spanish museums.”

He also was the father of four young children and husband to Kathleen — he was just 50 years old when he died of cancer Oct. 5.

In a newsletter today the SMU staff notes that his death came right on the heels of his 20th anniversary with the institution, which led as director since 2006.

According to the newsletter, “Under his leadership the museum tripled attendance; developed a major program of international exhibitions; created meaningful fellowships; produced insightful publications; constructed a new sculpture garden and outdoor spaces; made major acquisitions nearly doubling the collection; developed engaging and accessible educational programs; established strategic alliances with major museums worldwide; and raised millions of dollars in funding, most recently gifts totaling $6 million to establish a research institute.”

Indeed. Allen gives us way more insight as to Roglán’s contributions to Preston Hollow and SMU, our city, America and the world.

Roglán grew up in Madrid where his father, who “was the Walter Cronkite of Spain,” was arrested during a failed coup in 1881, and when Roglán started at Meadows “the collection he inherited was good, [but] it was mostly unknown.”

“He put the place on the international map,” Allen notes. He says Roglán impeccably balanced risk-taking and “Spanish machismo” with unyielding initiative and flawless taste to fantastic results.

“So many museum directors in America are timid, pasty bores who not only go with the flow. They hide in it, doing predictable things,” Allen writes. “Mark was the antidote. I don’t do exhibitions or buy art anymore, but for the gold standard of today, I looked to Mark and the Meadows.”

He says the administrators at SMU gave him great leeway because they trusted him.

“He was on message and loyal to all things SMU. He was smart, certainly scholarly, with a big, boisterous personality but down-to-earth. That’s a rare mix,” Allen says. “Donors and collectors trusted him. He was charming, smooth, and cosmopolitan, so much so that donors came to him asking, ‘What can I do for you?’ This is fundraising at its best.”

He knew he had just days to live and had told Allen the illness “was taking everything away from me.” His death is a loss on so many scores, Allen writes.

How very fortunate for us that his legacy includes the collections he curated — a treasure in our own back yard. Plus, the museum’s Facebook page lists a number of lectures, special exhibits and events.

SMU tells us plans for a memorial service are pending, but contributions in Rogan’s memory can be made to either the Meadows Museum Art Acquisitions Fund (P.O. Box 750357, Dallas, TX 75275-0357) or UT Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center (P.O. Box 910888, Dallas, TX 75391-0888).


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