Grace Yasumura Joins the Smithsonian American Art Museum as Inaugural Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow 

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum has appointed Grace Yasumura as the inaugural Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow. This position is the first of its kind at the museum and is one of two curatorial training fellowships at the museum supported by a five-year, $590,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Yasumura begins her appointment on Nov. 12.

“We are excited to welcome Grace to SAAM as our inaugural Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow,” said Amelia Goerlitz, chair of academic programs at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “Her academic background in American art and critical race theory, training in digital humanities and commitment to engaging a diverse range of museum audiences are a perfect fit for the position.”

Yasumura will apprentice with Karen Lemmey, the Lucy S. Rhame Curator of Sculpture, on the planning of a major exhibition about the construction of race in American sculpture. She will join a department of 10 curators, receiving training in four areas of curatorial work: research, exhibition development, collections planning and public outreach. She will also engage in the intellectual life of the museum’s Research and Scholars Center—home of its renowned research fellowship program and peer-reviewed journal for new scholarship American Art—presenting lectures and giving gallery talks. 

Yasumura earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College (2010), a master’s degree from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2013) and a doctorate from the University of Maryland, College Park (2019); her dissertation is titled “Invisible Men, Invisible Women: Labor, Race, and the (re)Construction of American Citizenship in New Deal Post Office Murals.” She has served as a teaching assistant and academic advisor at the University of Maryland and project manager for “Contemporary Monuments to the Slave Past,” a digital humanities project directed by Renée Ater, professor emerita of art history. As part of the curatorial team for the 2015 University of Maryland Art Gallery exhibition “Streams of Being: Selections from the Art Museum of the Americas,” Yasumura took a lead role in designing a compendium online exhibition. 

The Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellowship is intended as a professional development bridge connecting academic pursuits and a curatorial career for a scholar with in-depth subject expertise in American art. The position builds on the museum’s longstanding residential research fellowship program, which celebrates 50 years in 2020. Applications for the next Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellowship will open in April 2021

Since 1970, the museum has provided more than 680 scholars with financial aid and unparalleled research resources, as well as a world-class network of colleagues. Former fellows now occupy positions in prominent academic and cultural institutions across the United States, Australia, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and South America. In addition to hosting fellows through the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program, the museum offers the Joe and Wanda Corn Fellowship for scholarship that spans American art and American history, the Douglass Foundation Fellowship, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Fellowship, the George Gurney Fellowship for the study of American sculpture, the SAAM Fellowship in Latinx Art, the Joshua C. Taylor Fellowship, the Terra Foundation for American Art Fellowships for the cross-cultural study of art of the United States up to 1980; the William H. Truettner Fellowship and the Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. 

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the flagship museum of American art and craft. It is home to one of the most significant and inclusive collections of American art in the world. The museum’s main building, located at 8th and G Streets N.W., is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The museum’s Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Check online for current hours and admission information. Admission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website:

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