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Nancy Shelby Schuller: In Memoriam

posted by CAA — Dec 19, 2011

Nancy Shelby Schuller, who spent thirty-four years as curator of the Visual Resources Collection in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, died on November 8, 2011, following a long illness. She was 71. Schuller had been receiving loving care at Arveda Alzheimer’s Family Care, with the support of Resolutions Hospice and her family.

Born in 1940 to Joe Aubrey Shelby and Ida Ellenora Anderson Shelby, Nancy maintained her family’s long ties to the Austin area throughout her life. She attended grade schools in the city, graduating from Stephen F. Austin High School in 1958. She also earned a BA in studio art (1963) and an MFA in art history (1969) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Schuller joined the University of Texas staff in 1963 as a teaching assistant, beginning a distinguished career at the institution that would last nearly four decades. She taught graduate seminars in Administration and Development of Fine Arts Slide and Photograph Collections through her department and through the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She also cotaught numerous workshops, on Visual Resources Collection Fundamentals and on Advanced Studies in Visual Resources, both at her school and at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Schuller retired in December 2001. As he accepted her letter of resignation, the department chair Kenneth J. Hale described her tenure as one of “phenomenal accomplishment in the areas of teaching and administration.”

Schuller demonstrated great drive and adaptability with the change from slide and photograph collections to electronic management of visual resources, with digital scanning and cataloguing for delivery and access on the internet. She frequently participated in and delivered papers at national visual-resources and library conferences. She also led workshops on the classification of materials, and on standards and protocols for disseminating visual images in a range of settings, such as libraries, historical archives, and governmental agencies. Several generations of slide librarians and visual-resource curators were trained and mentored by Schuller. Her Management for Visual Resources Collections (1989), which evolved from her earlier edited volume, Guide for Management of Visual Resources Collections (1978), was the standard text used by professionals worldwide. Schuller was active in the Visual Resources Association (VRA) from its inception, and in 2005, she received the Art Libraries Society of North America and VRA Distinguished Service Award.

Her love of art museums, her fine seamstress skills, and her culinary creativity were all evidence of Schuller’s enduring interest in the wider artistic world. She was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, where she sang in the choir for many years and served on the altar guild.

Schuller is survived by her husband, Brian Schuller of Austin; her daughter, Shelby Nicole Schuller of Alexandria, Virginia; and extended family members throughout the United States. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to one of the following: Alzheimer’s Association, 3429 Executive Center Drive, Austin, TX 78731; Resolutions Hospice, 11825 Buckner Road, Austin, TX 78726; or Visual Resources Association Foundation, c/o R. Moss, 3949 43rd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406.

Filed under: Obituaries