Details for Nancy Jean Shaw

Nancy Jean Shaw, of Summerfield, Florida, passed away on March 13, 2020. Nancy was an American art historian and Curator Emerita of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A well-known expert in late 19th and early 20th century American art, she published extensively and lectured widely in the United States and Japan on the DIA's collection, and on the private collection of American art owned by fellow Detroiter Richard A. Manoogian.

A native of the Midwest, Nancy was born in Saginaw, Michigan and attended Oakland University to receive a BA magna cum laude in 1969. In 1972, she accepted a position as an assistant curator at the DIA. She earned her MA in Art History at Wayne State University in 1973 and was appointed Curator of American Art in 1975, one of the first women to be so named. Nancy co-organized a number of widely acclaimed exhibitions, but she is especially known for her compelling acquisitions, particularly the first one, Cotopaxi, painted in 1862, now recognized as one of Frederic Church's finest paintings, and an icon in American art.

In 1998, Nancy retired with her husband to Beaufort, South Carolina, and turned her attention to Southern art. She wrote extensively on such well known painters as Elliott Daingerfield, and more obscure artists, and lectured on the Southern landscape. After moving to Florida in 2004, she wrote and lectured on a variety of art historical subjects, including Eliel Saarinen and The Cranbrook Academy of Art.

In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Nancy judged art exhibitions in Detroit, Beaufort, and The Villages, and painted abstract landscapes throughout her life. An accomplished actress, she performed with little theater groups in Michigan and Florida. She also liked to sing and performed with St. Timothy's Choir in The Villages and The Celebration Choir at the Church on the Square, and with women's barbershop groups, including The Beaufort Belles in South Carolina and The Belles Chords and Sisters in Harmony in Florida.

She is survived by her husband Danny W. Shaw of The Villages, FL; her brother Richard J. Marcotte of Sioux Falls, SD; her daughter Christine M. Dougherty of New Orleans, LA, and her grandchildren Hazel and Zuzu Dougherty.

Arrangements entrusted to Beyers Funeral Home and Crematory, Lady Lake, FL. Online condolences may be left at