Larger Type
Smaller Type

Press Room


Smithsonian American Art Museum Names Eleanor Jones Harvey New Chief Curator

Media only: Laura Baptiste (202) 275-1595

The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced today (Sept. 22) that Eleanor Jones Harvey is the museum's new chief curator. Harvey will oversee the museum's curatorial and conservation staffs and its acquisitions and collections programs. Her new position begins today.

"Eleanor Harvey brings to the museum an incredible record of scholarship, a talent for dynamic and accessible interpretations, a strong eye for art and fine management skills," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director. "She will be key in helping us prepare for the successful reopening of the museum on July 4, 2006."

Harvey has been at the museum since January 2003 as the curator for the Luce Foundation Center for American Art, where she has been creating interpretive and educational components for the center.

"I am thrilled to be joining the Smithsonian American Art Museum's curatorial department at such an important moment in the museum's history," said Harvey. "There is no more rewarding opportunity in American art today, and I look forward to working with the entire staff to make this the premier place to enjoy and study America's visual culture."

Previously, Harvey was curator of American art at the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas, where she oversaw acquisitions, loans, conservation and public programs for the American art collection. During her tenure, she acquired major works—many as gifts—by John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Severin Roesen, John Kensett, Thomas Moran and Georgia O'Keeffe, among others. In 1992, Harvey oversaw the reinstallation of the American art permanent collection galleries in the new Hamon Building at the Dallas Museum.

Harvey organized several recent exhibitions, including "The Painted Sketch: American Impressions from Nature, 1830–1880" (1998), "Thomas Moran and the Spirit of Place" (2001) and "The Voyage of the Icebergs: Frederic Church's Arctic Masterpiece" (2002). Harvey's book "The Painted Sketch," based on her dissertation, won the 1999 Henry Russell Hitchcock Award from The Victorian Society of America as the most significant contribution to 19th-century fine arts studies. Her essay on artist Sanford R. Gifford will appear in Hudson River School Vision: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford, an exhibition catalog to be published next month by Yale University Press.

Harvey has also served as a consulting curator at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyo.; assistant curator of American Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and research assistant for "Albert Pinkham Ryder" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She has twice held Smithsonian fellowships, and was awarded both a Henry S. McNeill Fellowship in American Decorative Arts at Yale University and a Henry Luce Foundation Grant for dissertation research. She earned a bachelor's degree with distinction in the history of art from the University of Virginia, and she holds both a master's degree and doctorate in art history from Yale University.

Harvey replaces Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, who left the Smithsonian American Art Museum in January 2003 to become the chief curator at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings with approximately 40,000 artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries.

While the renovation of the museum's historic building continues, American Art offers a full program of exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W.). For information about Renwick Gallery activities, call (202) 357-2700 or visit the museum's award-winning Web site at