SAAM Fellowships: Celebrating Fifty Years with Wanda M. Corn

  • For fifty years, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has fostered new scholarship through its preeminent fellowship program, the oldest and largest in the world for the study of American art.

    WANDA M. CORN: I think everyone would agree that the resources of the research center are unparalleled if you are working on a project in the history of American art. There are people resources, there are archive resources, there are library resources, and then perhaps most special of all, there were the resources of each other. It is an amazing group of people that come together for an intense year of work and sharing and prodding and listening to each other as they bring a shape to their project.

    At SAAM, you're with a cohort, all of whom are doing some major project in researching and writing about the history of American art. That group becomes lifelong friends and professional colleagues. I was helped so much by the younger scholars, who were bringing fresh ideas to the table, and by the older scholars, who had been through the process of writing a big book and could mentor me as my project developed.

    I think it's fair to say that many of the leaders in the field of American art history have passed through SAAM's research program. It is a desired feather in your cap to be a fellow at SAAM because you know that it will serve you well for the rest of your years.