Anne Helmreich Named Director of the Archives of American Art

December 15, 2022
Close-up photograph of Anne Helmreich, smiling with chin-length hair and wearing a dark blouse.

Photo by Loli Kantor.

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Anne Helmreich has been named the director of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, effective Feb. 27, 2023. Helmreich is currently the associate director of grants programming at the Getty Foundation and brings 35 years of experience in higher education and arts administration to this new role.

The Archives of American Art fosters advanced research by accumulating and disseminating primary sources that document more than 200 years of the nation’s artists and art communities. Helmreich will oversee its Washington, D.C., headquarters and research center, New York City research center and Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery. She will also oversee its collections development, exhibitions and publications, including the Archives of American Art Journal, the longest-running scholarly journal in the field of American art. Additionally, Helmreich will lead the Archives’ digitization program and the stewardship of its holdings consisting of some 30 million items and an oral-history collection of more than 2,500 audio and video interviews, the largest accumulation of in-depth, first-person accounts of the American art world.

“Anne understands how effective and impactful art can be in recording and expressing the American story,” said Kevin Gover, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Museums and Culture. “Her track record as a successful administrator, educator and user of the Archives of American Art made her the obvious choice to conserve this vital collection and to make its holdings even more accessible to the art world and beyond.”

As associate director of grants programming at the Getty Foundation, Helmreich supports individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Through strategic grant initiatives, it strengthens art history as a global discipline, promotes the interdisciplinary practice of conservation, increases access to museum and archival collections and develops current and future leaders in the visual arts.

She also represents the Getty Foundation in the LA Arts Recovery Fund, which supports small to mid-sized arts organizations in Los Angeles.

Helmreich has been awarded over two dozen grants, published two books, edited five collections, written 19 book chapters, published 20 scholarly papers and contributed to over half a dozen exhibition catalogs. At the Archives of American Art, Helmreich aims to expand its digital offerings, foster an inclusive and diverse culture that represents the many communities and histories that make up the United States and establish the Archives as America’s preeminent storyteller for the arts.

“I am very excited to help move the Archives of American Art into the future by making it more accessible to more researchers from all backgrounds and by expanding public engagement,” Helmreich said. “The Archives’ unique collections have helped generations of art historians record and study American art, and by digitizing and diversifying our collections and our programming for new audiences, we will continue to reflect the history and future of America through this important lens.”

Previously, Helmreich served as the inaugural co-chair of the Getty DEAI Council, the associate director of digital initiatives at the Getty Research Institute, the dean of the College of Fine Arts at Texas Christian University, and director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and associate professor of art history at Case Western Reserve University.

Helmreich holds a Bachelor of Arts from Dickinson College, a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in art history from Northwestern University.

Liza Kirwin, deputy director of the Archives of American Art, has served as interim director.