Meet Mark Roglán: a knight in Spanish armor

In 2010, the Director of the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University, Mark Roglán, was knighted by the king of Spain.

Roglán was born and raised in Madrid by his parents who had a substantial interest in art and museums.

“Since I was a kid, some of the earliest memories I have is wandering in museums with my mother,” Roglàn said.

Growing up around art in museums incited curiosity about the history, theology, politics, and mythology behind the paintings. During museum visits, he would ask his mother endless questions.

“My mother always said that she had to prepare quite a bit because it was very likely that I was going to [ask] a lot of questions and she was going to find as many answers as possible,” he said.

Roglán started seeking out the answers to his questions at a young age. It was his teachers and mentors who guided him toward the path he’s still on today.

Early in his career, he was working as drawings department assistant at the Fogg Museum on Harvard University’s campus. It was there that Roglán learned the true purpose of a museum: learning. On university campus museums, the paintings available are so remarkable but also accessible. You can walk up to them and stand inches away, take in the minute details and leave having a new appreciation for that painting and everything that led to the making of it.

Taking this message to heart, Roglán uses his position as director to incorporate learning into every aspect of the Meadows Museum. The exhibitions at the museum are derived out of a need for more research or information on that certain artist or period. The events held at the museum are for attracting more people and students to learn about the works displayed.

Through their partnership with the Prado Museum in Madrid, Meadows has been able to put on exhibits with an extensive assortment of works including those if its collection and from the Prado.

“[Our mission is] making sure that we provide the best experience we can to our students, to our faculty, and to our visitors.”

Roglán has dedicated his career to making the Meadows Museum the center for Spanish art in America and has done such a great job that he had the honor of being knighted by King Juan Carlos I of Spain for his all he has done for Spanish culture in Dallas.

Nicknamed the “Prado on the Prairie,” Meadows is known for housing the largest collection of Spanish art outside of Spain, says the Condé Nast Traveler.

His assistant, Irene Davies, is someone who sees his passion for learning and Spanish art first hand.

“Mark is always thrilled to encounter students in the galleries — education is our mission and number one priority, so he puts a lot of resources behind those efforts. His enthusiasm for Spanish art is contagious, and he excels at making the subject approachable for everyone,” Davies said.

Roglán believes that every SMU student should take advantage of the incredible collection of art right on their campus. Just spending a little bit of time to learn about art can make a big impact.

“Just check it out. There’s nothing better than experiences on your own,” he said. “It’s very likely that whoever comes, spends a little time, looks at the art, will leave being a better person and will learn something.”