John Webster Keefe

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved curator of decorative arts, John Webster Keefe.

John joined the New Orleans Museum of Art staff in 1983. Over the years, he curated numerous exhibitions and permanent collection installations and dramatically expanded the scope as well as the quality of our decorative arts collection.

His extraordinary passion and encyclopedic knowledge of the visual arts were legendary, as was his quick wit, charm, and sharp sense of humor. His enthusiasm for the arts of the nineteenth century, which he described as ‘his beloved century,’ transformed the way our audiences viewed the time period and the art. John was a great teacher, a mentor, and a friend to many in the museum community and beyond, and he will be sorely missed.” 

- Susan Taylor, Director of the New Orleans Museum of Art

Memorial for NOMA curator John Webster Keefe

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) announces a public memorial service for decorative arts curator, John Webster Keefe, on Monday, February 28 at 4 pm in the Stern Auditorium in the museum. A reception will follow in the Great Hall.

John joined the New Orleans Museum of Art staff in 1983. Over the years, he was responsible for over 100 exhibitions and permanent collection installations. Mr. Keefe dramatically expanded the scope as well as the quality of the museum’s decorative arts collection.

“His extraordinary passion and encyclopedic knowledge of the visual arts were legendary, as was his quick wit, charm, and sharp sense of humor. His enthusiasm for the arts of the nineteenth century, which he described as ‘his beloved century,’ transformed the way our audiences viewed the time period and the art,” Director Susan M. Taylor said. “John was a great teacher, a mentor, and a friend to many in the museum community and beyond, and he will be sorely missed.”

John Keefe was the RosaMary Foundation Curator of the Decorative Arts at the New Orleans Museum of Art, a position he held since 1983. Educated at Deerfield Academy (1959) and Yale University (1963, B.A., 1965, M.A.), Keefe held posts at the Toledo Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and the continuing education programs at the University of New Orleans and Tulane University. He was awarded the Order of the Arts and Letters by the government of France in 1979.

He authored over 120 articles for the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Arts Quarterly and wrote for such national publications as The Magazine Antiques, Verandah, Southern Living, and the World Book encyclopedia. He organized a total of 112 exhibitions, among them 3500 Years of the Glassmaker’s Art (1986), Objects of Desire: The Hodges Family Collection of Fabergé (2008), and Scents and Sensibilities (2010).