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Broun, Elizabeth

Elizabeth
Broun, PhD
Year Inducted: 
2008
Elizabeth Broun
Highlights: 
  • Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • The Senior Member of the Smithsonian’s seventeen museum and bureau directors
  • Former Acting Director of KU’s Spencer Museum of Art
  • 1990: received Alfred H. Barr Award from the College Art Association in honor of her book
  • Supervisor of  research of the Smithsonian Fellows
  • 2001-2006: oversaw $250 million renovation of the American Art Museum
Biography: 

Dr. Elizabeth Broun, a three-time University of Kansas graduate (B.A. 1968, M.A. 1969, Ph.D. 1976), has served as the Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for the past eighteen years.  She is the senior member among the Smithsonian’s seventeen museum and bureau directors, having held her position longer than any other Director in recent memory.  Before working at the Smithsonian, Dr. Broun was the Acting Director of KU’s Spencer Museum of Art.  She has achieved much in her professional career as an art historian and continues to achieve new heights.  Dr. Charles Eldredge, Distinguished Professor, KU History of Art Dept., proclaimed that Dr. Broun’s “vision, her passion, and her energies have enlivened the Smithsonian Institution and the museum profession at large, and vast audiences near and far have been the beneficiaries.” 

Dr. Broun’s list of accomplishments is innumerable.  From 2001 to 2006, Dr. Broun oversaw a $250 million renovation of the American Art Museum, housed in the historic Patent Office Building in Washington D.C.  She has supported education and community outreach through long-distance learning programs.  These programs included traveling exhibitions and partnerships with public schools, which has contributed to her goal of making digital images of art collections accessible worldwide.  Dr. Broun is a distinguished scholar in the field of American Art.  In 1990, she received the Alfred H. Barr Award from the College Art Association in honor of her book on Albert Pinkham Ryder.  The book discusses technical, aesthetic, and social issues raised by his paintings.  Immediately following her attainment of her Master’s degree, in 1970, Dr. Broun was awarded a prestigious two-year appointment as a Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland.  To conclude, Dr. Broun has served 21 years at the American Art Museum and has supervised and mentored the research of the Smithsonian Fellows during each year.    

Just as fortunate as the University of Kansas is to have Dr. Broun as an alumna, Dr. Broun is as proud of her Kansas roots.  James F. Dicke II commented that Dr. Broun “always credits her Kansas influence as a central experience in the development of her own story.  She sees the Midwest as a thread of inspiration in the American story.  She sees the values represented by Kansas as the heart of America populated with a ‘can do’ spirit.  She honors a place that sees opportunity more clearly than obstacles.”


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