John W. Smith Named as New Director

By the Archives
June 10, 2006

John W. Smith has been named director of the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, effective June 26, 2006. He is currently the assistant director for collections, exhibitions and research at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

"John is exactly the right person to lead the Archives of American Art into the 21st century," said Ned Rifkin, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Art. "He combines both archival experience and a decidedly external orientation that will forge a new and prosperous profile for this important resource for research into the heart and soul of American art."

"I am excited and deeply honored by the opportunity to lead this remarkable organization into the future," said Smith. "I look forward to working with the board of trustees and the staff to find new and innovative ways to fulfill and enhance the Archives’ mission of collecting, preserving and disseminating the rich documentary evidence of American art."

Smith has served since 2000 as the assistant director for collections, exhibitions and research at The Andy Warhol Museum, where he oversaw all aspects of the permanent collection, organized exhibitions, raised money for the museum’s exhibitions and collections programs, and lectured and published books on various aspects of the museum’s collection. From 1995-1996, Smith served as interim director of The Andy Warhol Museum, where he oversaw the daily operation of the museum.

Smith served as curator of archives and director of the Archives Research Center at The Andy Warhol Museum (1994-2000), where he established the founding policies and guidelines of the center, raised funds to support the center’s goals, and collaborated with colleges and universities in promoting the center’s resources.

As the chief archivist at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1990-1994, Smith oversaw the preservation and access of the archival collections and worked with scholars, researchers and museum staff in using the archival resources.

In 1991, he served as visiting archivist at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, as part of an exchange program. Smith oversaw the daily operations of the archival collection and organized exhibitions.

From 1988-1990, Smith served as the founding curator of special collections and archives at the Chicago Park District where he identified and preserved historic drawings, documents and photographs, and worked with government officials in developing funding for the department’s programs.

Smith received his bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University in 1980. He has published numerous publications including "365 Takes: The Andy Warhol Museum Collection" (2004), "Andy Warhol’s Time Capsule 21" (2003) and "Strange Messenger: The Work of Patti Smith" (2002).

Smith succeeds Richard J. Wattenmaker, who resigned as director of the Archives of American Art on Oct. 1, 2005. Under Secretary for Art Ned Rifkin served as interim director.