The Smithsonian American Art Museum has appointed Nora Atkinson as the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, a newly endowed position at its Renwick Gallery. Atkinson will acquire artworks for the museum's permanent collection and organize exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery following a major renovation of its historic building, currently underway.
Atkinson will join Nicholas R. Bell, The Fleur and Charles Bresler Senior Curator of American Craft and Decorative Art, on staff at the Renwick Gallery. Atkinson begins work at the museum March 10.
"It is a real pleasure to welcome Nora Atkinson to the Renwick Gallery staff," said Robyn Kennedy, chief of the Renwick Gallery. "She will provide an important voice, with new ideas, as we prepare the collections and galleries for an exciting re-opening after the renovation is complete."
Atkinson comes to the museum from the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Wash. where she has been a curator since 2006 with a focus on art, craft and design. Recent exhibitions include "Fragile Fortress: The Art of Dan Webb" (2014), "Making Mends" (2012), "Lisa Gralnick: The Gold Standard" (2010) and "The Book Borrowers: Contemporary Artists Transforming the Book" (2009). The exhibition catalog for "Fragile Fortress," to be published in March, includes an interview with Webb by Atkinson. She earned a master's degree from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2006.
Lloyd Herman, the founding director of the Renwick Gallery, offered a major challenge gift that was the catalyst for attracting matching funds from private contributors to create a $2 million endowment to support a new curator of craft position. Herman has been a leader throughout the history of the modern craft movement, and during his tenure at the Renwick Gallery from 1971 to 1986, he established the Renwick as one of the most respected venues and voices for American craft. Under Herman's leadership, the Renwick introduced to the public artists such as Dale Chihuly, Maria Martinez and Albert Paley, among countless others.