Virginia M. Mecklenburg, Senior Curator

September 1, 2021

Virginia Mecklenburg is senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 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 Latinx art. Mecklenburg's recent exhibitions include "African American Art in the 20th Century" (2019) and "Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection" (2018), both nationally touring exhibitions. Her current projects include "Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice" and "Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women," both opening in 2024.

During her career, Mecklenburg has organized more than 30 exhibitions, including “Gene Davis: Hot Beat” (2016), “Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection” (2015), “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 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, LinkedIn and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website:

Press Images

A photograph of Virginia Mechlenburg in front of an Edward Hopper painting.
Press - Virginia M. Mecklenburg