headshot of  Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar
Under Secretary for Museums and Culture

Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar

Interim Director, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar is the interim director of the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She oversees more than 100 full-time employees and a collection of more than 210,000 design objects spanning 30 centuries. The only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design, Cooper Hewitt’s special exhibitions and educational programs tell design’s story, raise awareness of design’s universal value and demonstrate design’s power to make a difference.

From November 2019 to May 2021, Neuhold-Ravikumar was the Smithsonian’s Acting Under Secretary for Education. She was responsible for defining the Smithsonian’s educational priorities. She concentrated her efforts on Institution-wide educational initiatives, communication strategies and funding for programs that benefit learners of all ages, and focused on sharing the vast resources of the Smithsonian with the education community to support the needs of  K–12 teachers and students at the local and national level. She led a Smithsonian-wide team that specifically responds to the distance learning needs of teachers, students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neuhold-Ravikumar previously served as the Interim Associate Provost for Education and Access. Prior to that, she was director of education at the Cooper Hewitt (2017–2019), where she continues to contribute to the museum’s education program. Neuhold-Ravikumar draws from her international experiences as a designer and educator to inform her human-centered approach to reimagining education at the Smithsonian.

Originally from Chennai, India, she holds a bachelor’s degree in the history of fine art and drawing and painting from the Stella Maris College (India), a Master of Fine Arts in graphic design from Iowa State University and an executive education certificate in business from Yale University. Before joining the Smithsonian in 2017, Neuhold-Ravikumar, an award-winning designer, was an associate dean and professor of design at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma. She has served in leadership roles at all levels of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), and in 2015, was awarded the prestigious title of AIGA Fellow for her advocacy and leadership as a design educator. 

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