Senior Staff at MAG

Nile Blunt | Sheryl Burgstrom | Joe Carney | Debra Foster | Michael Marsh | Jessica Marten | Margot Muto

The Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) is fortunate to have a talented staff, dedicated Board of Managers, Gallery Council, over 1,100 volunteers, and over 4,000 members. As Trustee of MAG, the University of Rochester recognizes MAG as a valued asset for both the Rochester and UR communities. At MAG we stand for: Art and Culture; Learning and Joy; Accessibility and Inspiration; Stewardship and Integrity; and Community and Sociability. Meet our Senior Staff.

Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director, Jonathan P. Binstock

Jonathan Binstock is the Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director of the Memorial Art Gallery

Jonathan P. Binstock became the seventh director of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester (UR) in September 2014. Since then he has led an expansion of the museum’s permanent collection, special exhibition program, public engagement and outreach efforts, University engagement, and its annual operating budget. During his tenure, new scholarship and university press-published catalogs have accompanied MAG-originated exhibitions such as The Path to Paradise: Judith Schaechter’s Stained Glass Art and Monet’s Waterloo Bridge: Vision and Process, both having traveled to museums nationally. Upcoming projects include an exhibition featuring UR’s AIDS education poster collection, perhaps the largest of its kind in the world. Grants from a variety of government and private foundations have supported this and other work, including three grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, three from the National Endowment for the Arts, grants from the Ford Foundation and the VIA Art Fund to support a new commission by British media artist Isaac Julien, and a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support the mid-career survey of Judith Schaechter.

Binstock is successfully leading an effort to make the museum more accessible and to engage new audiences, including millennials and underserved populations. MAG’s popular MAGsocial and MAGconnect programming, for example, are introducing the museum to new generations and demographics of visitors, and helping to diversify its audience with free family memberships for those who take advantage of the MAGconnect program. Before Covid-19, MAG’s Expanding Learning Collaboration with Rochester City School District brought about 475 students to MAG on weekly visits over a 10-week period, helping to improve educational and behavioral outcomes for participating elementary students and to positively affect the culture of their schools. In addition, prior to Covid he had grown engagement among the University of Rochester’s undergraduate population by 25%.

McPherson Director of Academic Programs, Nile Blunt

Photo of Dr. Nile Blunt, an African American man wearing glasses and a suit, standing in front of a painting and smiling.
Nile Blunt, the McPherson Director of Academic Programs at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery is photographed June 3, 2022. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Dr. Nile Blunt came to MAG in 2020 as the McPherson Director for Academic Programs, bringing over a decade of experience in arts and museum education. As MAG’s chief educator, Blunt leads and directs the museum’s engagement with regional educators and students at all levels, designs arts-based learning experiences, and co-leads the museum’s interpretation efforts around art installations and temporary exhibitions. He develops robust partnerships with K-12 educators, regional institutions of higher education, as well as cultural and service organizations in order to engage learners of all ages. He plays a key role in MAG’s efforts towards broader community engagement by creating exciting and innovative learning opportunities for new and existing audiences through programming and arts-based initiatives. Blunt also holds an appointment as an Assistant Professor of Curatorial Practice in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Rochester.

Director of Finance, Sheryl Burgstrom

Sheri Burgstrom

Sheryl Burgstrom began her career at UR 19 years ago as Manager of the Endowment Accounting Department. At MAG she is responsible for financial forecasting, planning and analysis; overseeing the annual budget and auditing process; and working with UR’s Central Budget and Controller’s Offices. She holds degrees in finance and accounting with a minor in art history.

Senior Director, Major and Principal Gifts, Joe Carney

Joe Carney

Joe Carney has more than 30 years’ experience in advancement with a focus on the annual fund, campaign and major gift fundraising for higher education and health care. He holds a BS in Management from St. John Fisher College and an MA in English.

Facilities Area Manager, Debra Foster

Debbie Foster

Debra Foster oversees approximately 124,000 square feet of building space and 15 acres of grounds. She is responsible for developing and implementing operations and capital budgets in excess of $2 million and serves as MAG liaison to UR Facilities and Environmental Health and Services.

Chief Operating Officer / Deputy Director Michael Marsh

Michael Marsh headshot

Michael (Mike) Marsh is a native New Yorker born and raised in Queens, New York. He most recently served as the executive director of Baden Street Settlement of Rochester. Mike has a J.D. from The Cornell Law School and a B.A. from Queens College of the City University of New York. He has spent over 20 years in Rochester having served in leadership roles at prominent institutions, including Eastman Kodak, Nixon Peabody, and the Monroe County District Attorney’s office. Mike has an accomplished career in both the public and private sectors and brings more than 30 years of experience in business management, organizational development, strategic planning, legal practice, and non-profit board service. Mike currently serves on the Boards of St. Joseph Neighborhood Center and Nativity Prep of Rochester.

Curator in Charge/Curator of American Art, Jessica Marten

Jessica Marten

Jessica Marten is Curator in Charge/Curator of American Art at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester where she has worked since 2001. In her curatorial practice, Marten is particularly interested in exploring historically marginalized artists and lesser-known histories. Recent projects include an exhibition organized in honor of New York Women’s Suffrage Centennial in 2017, The Power of the Female Gaze. In July 2018, her exhibition and catalog The Surreal Visions of Josephine Tota introduced and advocated for the artist to be added into the canon of visionary artists. Her upcoming project, The Path to Paradise: The Stained Glass Art of Judith Schaechter, will explore the beautiful, bold, and subversive work of a cutting-edge contemporary artist who works in the centuries-old medium of stained glass. In addition to organizing exhibitions, Marten oversees MAG’s curatorial staff and is responsible for acquisitions, deaccessions, and installations drawn from MAG’s collections, grants, conservation priorities, scholarly publications, donor relations, and public lectures.

Head of Exhibitions, Margot Muto

Margot Muto

Margot Muto came to MAG in 2016. She was previously co-founder and director of AXOM Gallery & Exhibition Space, which opened in 2011 with the mission of presenting contemporary arts and design, and fostering the careers of emerging, mid-career and established artists. She holds a BFA in painting and printmaking from RIT.

photography: John Schlia unless otherwise noted