A photograph of Melissa Ho by Jeff Elkins

Melissa Ho

Curator (20th-Century Art)

Melissa Ho is the curator of twentieth-century art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She joined the museum's staff in September 2016. Ho’s research, acquisitions, and exhibitions focus on art made since 1945. She is particularly interested in studying the connections between artistic practice and social and historical conditions, as well as debates surrounding abstraction, conceptualism and experimental art. Ho organized the exhibition Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975 (2019) and is currently at work on Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas, an exhibition drawn from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection that will open in 2023.  

Exhibitions

  • Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo
    Pictures of Belonging celebrates trailblazing artists Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo, who, until now, have been excluded from the story of modernism in the United States.
    November 15, 2024 August 17, 2025
  • Galleries for Modern and Contemporary Art
    The Smithsonian American Art Museum's galleries for modern and contemporary art display selections from the permanent collection from the 1940s to the present.
    September 22, 2023 January 31, 2033
  • Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas
    The exhibition Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas provides an intimate view of Alma Thomas’ evolving artistic practices during her most prolific period from 1959 to her death in 1978.
    September 15, 2023 June 2, 2024
  • Artist to Artist
    Artist to Artist features paired artworks, each representing two figures whose trajectories intersected at a creatively crucial moment, whether as student and teacher, professional allies, or friends.
    October 1, 2021 May 18, 2025
  • Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965 – 1975
    Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975 makes vivid an era in which artists endeavored to respond to the turbulent times and openly questioned issues central to American civic life.
    March 15, 2019 August 18, 2019

Books

  • A picture of the book cover with painting of a kitchen with red utensils and an army man in the background.
    Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965 – 1975
    How the Vietnam War Changed American Art. More than forty years after the last American soldiers withdrew from Sài Gòn, Artists Respond affords a “real time” view of the Vietnam era as seen through the eyes of American artists. Each work was created as the conflict raged at home and abroad and is a record of how artists absorbed and contended with the dilemmas of the war as they unfolded.

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