Smithsonian American Art Museum Names Lindsay Harris as New Head of Its Research and Scholars Center 

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced today that Lindsay Harris will join its senior leadership team as head of the museum’s Research and Scholars Center, which has had a profound impact on the field of American art and museum studies for more than 50 years through its programs and resources. Harris will lead a team of nine staff members who manage the museum’s fellows and academic programs, intern programs, the journal American Art, publication prizes, art research databases and special collections used by national and international scholars. She begins work at the museum in spring 2023. 

“Lindsay Harris comes to SAAM with a wealth of experience in arts administration, developing research-driven exhibitions and publications, mentoring scholars and teams, and producing public programs and scholarship of the highest caliber,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “With her experience and connections that extend well beyond the U.S., I am confident she will continue to foster new scholarship that addresses the global connections in American art studies today.” 

Harris will report directly to Jane Carpenter-Rock, the museum’s deputy director for museum content and outreach.  

Harris is currently the Interim Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome. In this role, she has been responsible for arts programming, exhibition development, mentorship of scholars and artists and coordinating diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the Academy. For example, she has pioneered projects that foreground the accomplishments of marginalized voices in American art, including a forthcoming exhibition in 2023 about poet and activist June Jordan, who received the Rome Prize in 1970 for environmental design, and programs exploring the nature of voice and accessibility for people with disabilities. 

From 2014–2018, she was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor-in-Charge of the Humanities at the Academy. From 2011–2013, Harris was a researcher at the National Gallery of Art in the photography department where she worked on exhibitions including “Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial,” “Garry Winogrand” and “I Spy: Photography and the Theater of the Street, 1938–2010.”  

Harris is a lecturer, curator and author with an extensive list of publications, including the forthcoming book An Eye for Progress: Primitivism and the Modern Italian Landscape, 1910–1955. In this study, Harris analyzes a range of architectural photographs taken to guide Italy’s modernization to reveal the profound ambivalence in the 20th century about what constituted “progress.” In 2021, she was the managing editor of the Humanities Connect Journal, a digital, peer-reviewed journal of the Max Planck Institute for Art History. She has received numerous awards, research fellowships and grants, including an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Digital Humanities Grant (2015).  

She received her bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College (2000) and earned a master’s degree (2004) and a doctorate (2010) from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Her dissertation was titled “Picturing the Primitive: Photography, Architecture and the Construction of Italian Modernism.” 

The museum’s Research and Scholars Center is the nation’s leading center for the study of American art. Millions of virtual researchers from around the globe use SAAM’s seven online research databases, including the Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture which document more than 400,000 artworks in public and private collections worldwide; Save Outdoor Sculpture!, an inventory of the nation’s public sculpture; and the Peter A. Juley and Son Collection, a photographic record of notable artists working between 1890s to the mid-1970s. The museum sponsors several publication prizes and produces American Art, a peer-reviewed periodical for new scholarship published three times each year in partnership with the University of Chicago Press. In 2021, the museum established a new professional development program to foster excellence and diversity in the field of American art scholarship. “Toward Equity in Publishing” is a two-year pilot program that will provide critical support to early-career art historians. 

The museum offers internships for college seniors and graduate students, all paid, and fellowships for pre- and post-doctoral scholars-in-residence. SAAM’s premier fellowship program, the oldest and largest program for the study of American art, has had unprecedented influence and a global impact on the field. The program celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020. Since 1970, the museum has provided 747 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 North America, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, Russia, the Middle East and South America.  

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: americanart.si.edu.

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