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Sheila J. McNally: In Memoriam

posted by CAA — Oct 24, 2014

Sheila J. McNally, professor emerita of art history at the University of Minnesota, passed away in Minneapolis on September 24, 2014. She was 81 years old.

McNally graduated with a BA from Vassar College in 1953. Following studies at the University of Kiel, the University of Munich, and the Radcliffe Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, she received her PhD from Harvard University in 1965, writing a dissertation on “The Role of Ornament in Protocorinthian Vase Painting.” After serving as a lecturer and instructor at Ohio State University and Mount Holyoke College, McNally joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1965. Until 1987 she was a member of the Art History Department; between 1987 and 2004 she was affiliated with the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies; and then from 2004 until her retirement in 2010 she was again a faculty member in the Department of Art History.

Over the course of her long career McNally was widely recognized as a dynamic educator and accomplished scholar. In addition to numerous publications on Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia—including her 1996 book The Architectural Ornament of Diocletian’s Palace at Split—her work engaged Coptic Egypt and the art and archaeology of monasticism, as well as Greek and Roman sculpture, mosaics, and pottery. She served as a member of the board of directors of the College Art Association and Mid-America Art History Society, and as a member of the advisory board of the Women’s Caucus for Art, the board of governors and other committees of the Archaeological Institute of America, and the Rome Prize jury of the American Academy in Rome.

McNally was a pathbreaking scholar and archaeologist—among the earliest women to make a name for herself in a field long dominated by men—and was an inspiring role model to young women in the field of Classical archaeology. She will be remembered as a passionate individual who lived her life in an utterly unique fashion, and will be missed by all who knew her.

Contributions in her honor can be made to the Sheila McNally Fellowship Fund (care of the Department of Art History), which supports graduate students pursuing the PhD in the art and archaeology of the late antiquity.

Filed under: Obituaries