Virginia M. Mecklenburg, Chief Curator

Virginia Mecklenburg is chief curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She oversees the museum’s curatorial and conservation staffs and its acquisitions and collections programs. She has been a curator of painting and sculpture at the museum since 1979. Her research interests include American art and culture, Ashcan art, New Deal art, American abstraction, pop art and Latino art. Mecklenburg’s most recent exhibitions include “Gene Davis: Hot Beat” (2016), featuring paintings from the museum’s collection, and “Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection” (2015).

During her career, Mecklenburg has organized more than 25 exhibitions, including “Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection” (2014), “African American Masters: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond” (2012), “Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg” (2010), “Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum” (2008) and “Earl Cunningham’s America” (2007). She co-organized the exhibition and wrote the catalog “Edward Hopper: The Watercolors” (1999), and co-organized “Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York” (1995); the accompanying book won the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award in 1997.

She has written on George Bellows, Richard Estes, William Glackens, Edward Hopper, Robert Indiana, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Sloan, Robert Vickrey and other 20th-century painters for exhibition-based publications as well as for magazines and journals such as American Art, American Art Review and The Magazine Antiques. She has lectured widely and has served on advisory committees for the Sara Roby Foundation, the College Art Association, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Art Museum of the Americas (OAS), the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the Washington Sculptors Group and the executive art committee for the Washington Convention Center.

Mecklenburg received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her doctorate in art history (1983) from the University of Maryland at College Park.

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. 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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