Smithsonian American Art Museum Names Stephanie Stebich New Director

She comes to Washington, DC from the Tacoma Art Museum.

Stephanie Stebich. Photo courtesy the Tacoma Art Museum.
Stephanie Stebich. Photo courtesy the Tacoma Art Museum.

Stephanie Stebich has been named the new director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Washington, DC institution announced Tuesday on its blog Eye Level.

“This is a dream position,” Stebich told the Washington Post. “This is an institution I’ve always admired, one of the jewels in the Smithsonian crown.”

She comes to the museum after nearly 12 years as executive director of the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, Washington, where she doubled the museum’s exhibition space, added 2,000 works of art to its holdings—including a large collection of glassworks by Dale Chihuly—and effectively raised more than $37 million for the museum.

“She has the knowledge, skill and stellar reputation that will enable her to build on and extend the museum’s marvelous success in the years ahead,” said David Skorton, Smithsonian Secretary.

Before her directorship at the Tacoma Art Museum, Stebich held posts as assistant director at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art. She is currently a member of the board of the American Alliance of Museums, and previously sat on the board of the Association of Art Museum Directors, where she chaired a committee that led a major effort to increase diversity in museum leadership.

Officially the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, she will take over on April 3, 2017.

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead the national museum of American art in our nation’s capital,” she said. “I am eager to tell the inspiring stories of American art through the museum’s phenomenal collections and dynamic programs. I look forward to working with the museum’s talented staff and the other directors of Smithsonian museums.”

As the Washington Post notes, Stebich was appointed one day after President Trump’s federal hiring freeze, and a week after talks of dissolving the National Endowment for the Arts; her $250,000 salary will reportedly come from non-federal funds.


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