Wonderful Women Wednesday: Peggy A. Loar

Each week, the Archives features a woman who has been a groundbreaker at the Smithsonian, past or present, in a series titled Wonderful Women Wednesday.

Peggy Ann Loar was the director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) between 1980 and 1987. During this time, she led a team of around 65 employees.  

Prior to her role at SITES, Loar worked as curator of education at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1971–76, and as assistant director for programs and policy at the Institute of Museum Services, 1977–80.

In the museum field, Loar has garnered a reputation for her leadership at brand new museums. Following her career at the Smithsonian, she served as the founding director of the Wolfsonian, 1987–96; founding director of Copia, The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts, 1997–2005; and director of the National Museum of Qatar, 2009–12. 

In 2014, Loar spoke to the Washington Post about what she considered to be the strengths of women in management positions. She explained, "I do think women have a different management style than men. They tend to be calmer and know how to balance many things, and in my experience, they have a better sense of humor on things."

Loar served as the president of the United States International Council of Museums between 1996 and 2002. 

She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in art history from the University of Cincinnati and an arts leadership certificate from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Close-up photograph of Peggy A. Loar.

Related Resources

Related Collections

  • Smithsonian Institution. Traveling Exhibition Service. Office of the Director, Acc. 01-208, Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Smithsonian Institution. Traveling Exhibition Service, Acc. 01-135, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Produced by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. For copyright questions, please see the Terms of Use.