Randall Griffey is head curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; he joined the museum’s staff in August 2022. He is responsible for all aspects of the curatorial program, including research, exhibitions, acquisitions and collections. Currently, he is overseeing “American Voices and Visions,” a multiyear renewal and reinstallation of the museum’s permanent collection galleries, scheduled to be complete in 2026 in honor of the semiquincentennial of the founding of the United States.
From 2013 to 2022, Griffey worked as the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During his tenure there, he co-curated with Kelly Baum, “Alice Neel: People Come First” (2021) and organized, in close collaboration with the artist Kent Monkman (Cree), the groundbreaking Great Hall Commission “Kent Monkman: mistikộsiwak (Wooden Boat People)” (2019–2021), a monumental diptych addressing the history and issues of colonization of North America that became part of the Met’s permanent collection. He also curated “Reckoning with Modernism,” part of the expansive 150th anniversary exhibition “Making The Met, 1870–2020” (2020).
Griffey also served as a curator of American art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri (1999–2008) and curator at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College (2008–2011), where he also served as head of curatorial affairs in 2012. He completed the Center for Curatorial Leadership program in 2016.
His extensive scholarly publications include contributions to American Art, A Companion to American Art and numerous exhibition catalogs. He has twice been recognized by the Association of Art Museum Curators, first in 2008 for his article “Marsden Hartley’s Aryanism: Eugenics in a Finnish-Yankee Sauna” in American Art, and again in 2011, for his essay “Reconsidering the ‘Soil’: The Stieglitz Circle, Regionalism and Cultural Eugenics in the Twenties” in the exhibition catalog Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties.
A native of Kansas, Griffey graduated from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, and earned a doctorate from the University of Kansas. His dissertation “Marsden Hartley’s Late Paintings: American Masculinity and National Identity in the 1930s and ’40s” received the university’s Dorothy Haglund Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation. He was a Sara Roby Fellow in 20th American Realism in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s prestigious fellowship program.
About the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the flagship museum in the United States for 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 Eighth 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: americanart.si.edu.