A photograph of a woman standing in front of artwork.

Leslie Umberger

Curator (Folk and Self-Taught Art)

Leslie Umberger is the curator of folk and self-taught art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She joined the museum staff in September 2012. Her research interests include artists who navigated their own artistic path, often in oppressive environments. She has specialized also in artists who transformed their personal realms into comprehensive art environments, often over extended periods of time. Umberger is known for situating such artists within specific cultural contexts and establishing meaningful frameworks for the art they have made. See full staff bio


  • Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor

    September 28, 2018 – April 7, 2019
    Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and G Streets, NW)
    Bill Traylor is regarded today as one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century. His drawn and painted imagery embodies the crossroads of multiple worlds: black and white, rural and urban, old and new. His life—which spanned slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Great Migration and foreshadowed the era of Civil Rights—offers a rare perspective to the larger story of America.
  • Mingering Mike’s Supersonic Greatest Hits

    February 27, 2015 — August 1, 2015
    Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and G Streets, NW)
    The Mingering Mike collection comprises artworks constructed as part of the artist’s youthful fantasy of becoming a famous soul singer and songwriter, including LP albums made from painted cardboard, original album art, song lyrics and liner notes, self-recorded 45 rpm singles and more, all tracing the career of a would-be superstar.


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