THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART (NGA) is adding to its leadership team. E. Carmen Ramos has been named chief curatorial and conservation officer, overseeing all aspects of the museum’s curatorial and conservation departments.

She will be the first woman and first person of color to serve in the role. The appointment was announced May 13.

Ramos joins the National Gallery after 11 years at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), where she was the acting chief curator and curator of Latinx art.

“E. Carmen Ramos brings two decades of experience as a museum curator and leader, a record of significant award-winning projects, and a deep commitment to scholarship,” National Gallery of Art Director Kaywin Feldman said in a statement.

“She is widely admired in the field as a visionary leader and as a scholar. We look forward to collaborating with Carmen at this exciting moment in the National Gallery’s history—as we are launching a reimagined visual identity and brand that aims to reflect and reach our audiences with warmth, relevant exhibitions, and engaging content.”

In 2010, Ramos joined the Smithsonian American Art Museum. During her tenure, she exponentially expanded SAAM’s pioneering collection of Latinx art, strategically building its holdings to reflect the broad range of aesthetics and regions in the field.

She has curated numerous exhibition over the years. At SAAM, she organized “Tamayo: The New York Years” (2017-18), “Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography” (2017), and “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art” (2013), a national traveling exhibition that toured eight cities. Her most recent exhibition, “¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now” (May 14-Aug. 8, 2021), is currently on view. She previously served as deputy chief curator at SAAM.

Prior to working at Smithsonian, Ramos was an assistant curator for cultural engagement at the Newark Museum of Art in New Jersey. She has worked as an independent curator and was a public programs educator at the Brooklyn Museum. Earlier, she held internships at the Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was a fellow in the Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Program.

Romas earned a BA in art history and psychology from New York University and holds a master’s and Ph.D., degrees in art history from the University of Chicago. Her board memberships include the Association of Art Museum Curators and the editorial board of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture, a journal published by UCLA.

“E. Carmen Ramos brings two decades of experience as a museum curator and leader, a record of significant award-winning projects, and a deep commitment to scholarship.”
— National Gallery of Art Director Kaywin Feldman

THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART reopens today, May 14, after being shuttered for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a transformative time at the museum. The same day the museum announced the appointment of Ramos, it introduced a new logo, brand identity, and website.

It’s new tagline is “Of the Nation. For the People.” In a message about the new vision for the museum, Feldman emphasizes its “renewed commitment to serve as the nation’s art museum” with a focus on “welcoming all people to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity.” She also indicates NGA’s aspirations to be a diverse institution and a museum for all the people. The focus on inclusivity has also informed its recent hiring.

Over the past two years, NGA has added three Black executive officers to its leadership ranks, along with a new head of education, and the first curator of African American and Afro-Diasporic Art. Ramos is Dominican American and identifies as Afro Latina. She officially starts in August. Here is how the museum described her new role:

    Ramos will lead the National Gallery’s large curatorial and conservation departments, directing scholarship efforts and establishing research priorities. She will lead efforts to develop the understanding of art through research, conservation, collecting, and exhibitions in ways that reflect our nation and its histories. She will build strategic partnerships for the National Gallery locally, nationally, and internationally. As an advocate for curatorial and conservation, Ramos will foster collaboration and innovation with other departments across the museum. She will serve as the principal architect of the visitor experience with the collection in the galleries and will be responsible for developing and implementing the evolution of the collection’s growth and installation over time.

“I am honored to join the National Gallery at this transformative moment in our nation’s history, when museums are recommitting themselves to deeper inclusive practices, collections, and exhibitions,” Ramos said in a statement.

“It is important that we continue to expand the boundaries of art history, making sure our scholarship reflects a fuller and more complex picture of our nation and world. I am excited to work with the National Gallery’s stellar curatorial and conservation team to serve our nation by developing exhibitions and collections that connect with the museum’s current and future audiences.” CT


IMAGE: E. Carmon Ramos will serve as chief curatorial and conservation officer, beginning August 2021. | National Gallery of Art. Photo © 2021 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington


FIND MORE National Gallery of Art Director Kaywin Feldman spoke to Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post about the controversial decision to delay “Philip Guston Now,” the traveling exhibition featuring the artist’s comic-style images of Klan figures


Meet the Curator: Evelyn Carmen Ramos. | Video by Smithsonian Channel


E. Carmen Ramos co-authored the exhibition catalog “¡Printing the Revolution!: The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now.” She also authored the catalog for “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art,” which was recognized with a 2014 Award for Excellence Award from the Association of Art Museum Curators.


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