Claudine K. Brown has been named director of education for the Smithsonian Institution, effective June 20. Brown, 60, has been the director of the arts and culture program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York since 1995.
As the director of education, Brown will be responsible for defining the Smithsonian’s education program and will report directly to Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. She will develop an Institution-wide plan for educational initiatives, assessment strategies and funding for students in the K-12 range. Brown will oversee two of the Smithsonian’s educational organizations—the National Science Resources Center and the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies—and coordinate the efforts of 32 education-based offices in museums and science centers.
“With her experience, creativity and leadership skills, Claudine Brown will unify our many education initiatives and help the Smithsonian become a greater national resource for students and teachers,” said Clough.
“We are living in a moment when the convergence of the intellectual and creative capital of the Smithsonian Institution and the opportunities made possible by the digital revolution could lead to broad and engaging points of access for learners of all ages,” said Brown.
Brown is not new to the Smithsonian. In 1990, she joined the Smithsonian to serve as director of the National African-American Museum Project. In this position, she coordinated the efforts of advisory committees that considered the role of the Smithsonian in the development of a national museum devoted to exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture. She developed the Institution’s final study on the project and a program plan for the proposed museum. In 1991, she also became the deputy assistant secretary for the arts and humanities and developed policy for many Smithsonian museums.
As director of the arts and culture program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation since 1995, Brown has positioned the organization as a leading arts grantmaker that supports institutions that are committed to excellence, diversity and community involvement. During the early years of her tenure at the foundation, Brown worked to strengthen community-based arts education programs. More recently, she has worked with innovative organizations that have helped creative young people acquire new-media literacy.
From 1977 to 1990, Brown held several positions at The Brooklyn Museum: museum educator (1977-1982), manager of school and community programs (1982-1984), and assistant director for government and community relations (1985).
In addition to working in the museum and philanthropy communities, Brown has served for more than 20 years as a faculty advisor and instructor in the Leadership in Museum Education Program at Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York City, giving her the opportunity to work with some of the pre-eminent museum evaluators, educators and thinkers in the field. Many of the more than 200 students Brown advised and taught are now directors of education and managers at art, history, natural history, science and children’s museums throughout the country.
Brown earned her bachelor’s degree from Pratt Institute in New York City and master’s degree in museum education from Bank Street College of Education. She earned her law degree from Brooklyn Law School.
Brown has served on several nonprofit boards, including the American Association of Museums, the National Park Service Fund, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, Bank Street College of Education and the Smithsonian Institution Education Task Force. Her public service has included participation on the National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission and the Mayor’s Commission on the Future of the District of Columbia’s Library System. An active leader in the foundation community, Brown has served as president of the Board of Grantmakers in the Arts and is a founding member of the Art and Social Justice Funders Group.
# # #
Linda St. Thomas