Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ph.D. is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Wilkinson co-curated two of the inaugural exhibitions for the new museum: A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond and A Century in the Making: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Wilkinson is also developing the museum’s collections in architecture and design.
Prior to NMAAHC, Wilkinson spent six years as Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. In that capacity, she curated over twenty exhibitions, including A People’s Geography: The Spaces of African American Life and two award-winning shows—Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists and For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People.
She has also worked at the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Wilkinson contributed essays to New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement and Potentially Harmful: The Art of American Censorship. Her writing has also appeared in the International Review of African American Art, ARC Magazine: Contemporary Caribbean Visual Art and Culture, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, and Revue Noire: Art Contemporain Africain, among others. Wilkinson’s current research project, “V is for Veranda,” about architectural heritage in the Anglophone Caribbean, has been presented to international audiences in Suriname, England, India, and the United States. Wilkinson is active in several associations in the museum field. She served on the Inclusion and Access Task Force of the Association of Art Museum Curators and she is on the board of the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL). As a CCL fellow in 2012, Wilkinson completed a short-term residency at the Design Museum in London.
She holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. from Emory University.