Jill Vaum Rothschild Joins the Smithsonian American Art Museum as Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow 

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum has appointed Jill Vaum Rothschild as a Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow. This position is the second of two curatorial training fellowships at the museum, supported by a five-year, $590,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Rothschild’s appointment started on Jan. 3. 

“We are delighted to welcome Jill to SAAM as our second Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow,” said Amelia Goerlitz, chair of academic programs at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “Her academic expertise in 19th-century American art, African American art and visual culture combined with her experience engaging diverse audiences on these topics will be of great benefit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.” 

Rothschild will apprentice with Eleanor Jones Harvey, senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on the museum’s reinstallation of its permanent collection—a major, multiyear project encompassing all three floors of gallery space in the museum’s main building. Rothschild will join a department of eight curators and receive training in four areas of curatorial work: research, exhibition development, collections planning and public outreach. She will also present lectures and give gallery talks and engage with the museum’s Research and Scholars Center—home of a renowned research fellowship program and American Art, a peer-reviewed journal for new scholarship.  

Rothschild earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University (2011) followed by a master’s degree (2014) and a doctorate (2021) from the University of Pennsylvania; her dissertation is titled “Facing Freedom: African American Emancipation in Antebellum Portraiture.” Her dissertation research was supported by a Patricia and Phillip Frost Predoctoral Fellowship from the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well as fellowships from the Fred W. Smith National Research Library at Mount Vernon, the Luce Foundation/ACLS and the Library of Congress. While at the University of Pennsylvania, Rothschild co-curated the 2015–2016 exhibition “Expanding the Audience for Art in the 19th-Century” at the university’s Arthur Ross Gallery; she also served as a curatorial assistant for exhibitions on the work of Kara Walker and Norman Lewis. From 2011–2012, Rothschild held a Samuel H. Kress Interpretive Museum Fellowship at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee. 

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 celebrated 50 years in 2020.  

Since 1970, the museum has provided more than 732 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 Will Barnet Foundation Fellowship for research on American modern art and its influences; the Joe and Wanda Corn Fellowship for scholarship that spans American art and American history; the Douglass Foundation Fellowship for predoctoral research; the Patricia and Phillip Frost Fellowship for American art and visual culture; the George Gurney Fellowship for the study of American sculpture; the Smithsonian American Art Museum fellowship in Latinx art supported by the Smithsonian Latino Center; the alumni-supported 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 for up to six months of research on American art, a fellowship in American craft supported by the Windgate Foundation; and the Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship for the study of excellence in all aspects of American art.  

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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