Scott Erbes

Curator of Decorative Arts and Design



A graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, Scott began his career in 1990 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. He joined the Speed Art museum in 1999 as the museum’s first curator of decorative arts and design for a collection that ranges from late medieval to contemporary. Scott’s areas of interest include antebellum Kentucky decorative arts, the English and American Arts and Crafts movements, and the intersection of art and industry in eighteenth-century England.

Scott served as one of the Speed’s interim directors from October 2012 through August 2013 before becoming chief curator in September 2013. In this capacity, he led the curatorial team during the museum’s $50 million expansion and renovation project (2012-2016). During the project, Scott oversaw the creation of a satellite gallery, directed concept development and gallery design for reinstallation, and recruited multiple additions to the Speed’s curatorial team including the curator of European and American painting and sculpture, the curator of contemporary art, and the curator of film. After developing a succession plan in early 2017, Scott stepped away from his role as chief curator to begin work on several exhibition projects.

Scott’s Kentucky-oriented work includes the creation and 2016 grand opening of a new, 5,600-square-foot Kentucky gallery at the Speed. He also developed and launched the Kentucky Online Arts Resource (, an online image database devoted to Kentucky’s artistic heritage. He was project director for the 2007 exhibition For Safekeeping: The Kentucky Sugar Chest, 1790-1850 and curated the 2011 exhibition,Kentucky Antiques from the Noe Collection: A Gift to the Commonwealth.

Other exhibitions and installations include English Silver in the Age of Matthew Boulton: The James C. Codell, Jr., Collection (2009), Modern in the Making: Design 1900-2000 (2010), Quilts from Kentucky and Beyond: The Bingham-Miller Family Collection (2011), Teatime Chic: Ceramics, 1900-1960 (2015), and Wonderland Museum: Hidden Marvels from the Speed’s Collection (2016).