Nora Atkinson, Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, Renwick Gallery

Nora Atkinson is the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She joined the museum’s staff in March 2014. Atkinson was part of the team responsible for the recent renovation of the Renwick Gallery, the museum’s branch for contemporary craft and decorative art. She acquires artworks for the museum’s permanent collection and organizes exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery. She was the curatorial lead for the 2016 reinstallation of the contemporary craft permanent collection galleries and for the exhibition “Visions and Revisions: The 2016 Renwick Invitational.”

She is the author of Craft for a Modern World: The Renwick Gallery Collection (2015) and a co-author of the exhibition catalog accompanying “Visions and Revisions” (2016). Her research interests include contemporary craft and design and the role of the handmade in modern culture. Atkinson’s recent projects include the Renwick Gallery’s site-specific installation “Rick Araluce: The Final Stop” and the exhibition “Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” that both opened on October 20, 2017. She curated the major exhibition “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” and its outdoor extension “No Spectators: Beyond the Renwick” that opened on March 30, 2018. Currently, she is working on organizing the Renwick Gallery's permanent collection presentation "Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery" that opens on March 29, 2019. 

Atkinson was a curator at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Wash., from 2006 to 2014. Among her most notable exhibitions there were “Fragile Fortress: The Art of Dan Webb” (2014), “Making Mends” (2012), “Lisa Gralnick: The Gold Standard” (2010) and “The Book Borrowers: Contemporary Artists Transforming the Book” (2009). Her critical essays and writing were featured in five publications produced by the museum.

Atkinson earned a bachelor’s degree (2002) and a master’s degree (2006) from the University of Washington, Seattle.

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery

The Renwick Gallery is the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s branch for contemporary craft and decorative arts. The Renwick is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. Follow the museum on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website:

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