Virginia Mecklenburg is the 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 has organized more than 25 exhibitions, the most recent of which were 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. Other projects include consulting on the museum’s educational website “Picturing the 1930s” and directing the interactive video American Abstraction, 1930–1945: The Artists Speak that received the American Film and Video Association’s Blue Ribbon award in 1991.
Mecklenburg received a bachelor’s degree (1968) and a master’s degree (1970) from the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her doctorate in art history (1983) from the University of Maryland at College Park.
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