Photograph of Karen Lemmey by Bruce Schwarz

Karen Lemmey

The Lucy S. Rhame Curator of Sculpture

Karen Lemmey is the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s curator of sculpture; she joined the museum’s staff in 2012. Lemmey is responsible for research, exhibitions and acquisitions related to the museum’s extensive sculpture collection, which is the largest collection of American sculpture in the world. Her research interests include public art and monuments, the history of materials and methods, American artist colonies in 19th-century Italy, the depiction of race in American sculpture, the history of sculpture conservation, and direct carving. See full staff bio.


  • Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/Modern

    November 11, 2016 – March 19, 2017
    Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and G Streets, NW)

    Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was among the most innovative American sculptors of the twentieth century, creating works that were far ahead of his time. His design for Sculpture to Be Seen from Mars (1947) anticipates the space age by several decades.

  • Direct Carving

    February 1, 2015 — July 12, 2020
    Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and G Streets, NW)

    Spontaneous! Truthful! Liberating! Direct carvers often used such words to describe their unconventional method of sculpting, in which an artist works directly on a piece of stone or wood as opposed to with a model, cast, or preconceived design.