History of Art and Architecture

Sylvia Rhor Samaniego

Director and Curator, University Art Gallery; Teaching Professor, History of Art & Architecture


Sylvia Rhor Samaniego is the Director and Curator of the University Art Gallery (UAG) at the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, she serves as Senior Lecturer in the Department of History of Art and Architecture. In her role as UAG Director, Sylvia designs a long-term vision for curation, education, public programs, and collections for the gallery. She creates interdisciplinary academic programing and organizes exhibitions that connect the gallery with university curriculum and critical social issues. Prior to joining the UAG, Sylvia was Professor of Art History at Carlow University. At Carlow, Sylvia was founding director of the university’s first academic art gallery. She brings a commitment to inclusive programming, management and curation to her current work at University Art Gallery (UAG). 


Sylvia earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of Pittsburgh, and a B.A. in Studio Art and Art History from New York University, where she was a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Minority Scholar. Her research interests include 20th century mural painting in the United States, political cartoons and comics, and the intersection of modern art and politics. Her doctoral thesis focused on the historic mural collection in Chicago's public schools. She began her research on the topic while directing a project at The Art Institute of Chicago. She has also curated exhibitions at The Andy Warhol Museum and the August Wilson Center of African American Culture, and she has created educational resources for cultural organizations including The Mattress Factory Museum, The Frick Art and Historical Center, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Office of Public Art, Pittsburgh. She served on the Pittsburgh’s Art Commission from 2010 to 2015. In 2019, she completed the Getty Leadership Institute for Museum Professionals.


Sylvia has contributed essays to the Art Institute of Chicago’s Journal of Museum Studies, The Decorated School: Essays on Visual Culture of Schooling (2014), Art for the People: Murals in the Chicago Public Schools, 1904-1943 (2003) and Art in Chicago: A History from the Fire to Now (2018). Her current research focuses on Pittsburgh’s historic murals and museum studies.

Education Details

PhD, University of Pittsburgh

MA, University of Pittsburgh

BA, New York University