Sarah Newman, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art

September 15, 2023

Sarah Newman is the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art and deputy head curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She joined the museum staff in September 2016. Her responsibilities include research, exhibitions and acquisitions related to the museum’s collection of contemporary art.   

Recent projects include “American Voices and Visions: Modern and Contemporary Art” (2023), the first phase of a multiyear renewal and reinstallation of the museum’s permanent collection galleries, and the exhibitions “Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past Is Prologue,” (2019) and “Kara Walker: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)” (2017). Newman served as the guest curator for “Theaster Gates: The Minor Arts,” (2017) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  

Newman was the curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art from 2006 to 2014. While at the Corcoran, Newman developed “NOW at the Corcoran,” a series of commissioned exhibitions and performances by emerging and midcareer artists including Mia Feuer, Spencer Finch, Ellen Harvey, Chris Martin and Enoc Perez. She also organized “30 Americans,” a survey of contemporary African American art (2011) and “Washington Color and Light: Works from the Washington Color School” (2010).  

Her research interests include the relationship between contemporary art and design, and the art of the 1980s. She has also taught at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, George Mason University and Georgetown University.  

Newman earned a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. 

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 Sarah Newman.
Press - Sarah Newman

Photo by John DeWolf.