SmithGroup, an integrated design firm, has promoted experienced museum architect and exhibition design specialist Jamē Anderson to lead its Cultural Practice. In this role, Anderson heads the firm’s Cultural studios that provide planning and design services to the spectrum of cultural organizations across the globe. She is based in SmithGroup’s Washington, DC office.
“Cultural Institutions today are charged with serving the public as places of education, enlightenment, entertainment, remembrance and advocacy,” says Mike Medici, SmithGroup president and managing partner. “Jamē’s passion for empowering others through authentic story-telling, coupled with her depth of knowledge about collections and exhibitions having worked inside several of our nation’s most prominent museums, makes her the ideal leader for our Cultural Practice.”
SmithGroup’s Cultural Practice encompasses a network of specialty expertise, including planning, programming and design of museums and galleries, archives and collections care, visitor and interpretive centers, children’s museums, science centers, arts education, performing arts and cultural landscapes. For more than half a century, the firm has delivered award-winning projects for some of the world’s most iconic places and prestigious institutions including Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, Cranbrook Academy, Normandy American Cemetery, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Library of Congress.
Anderson assumes leadership of the practice at a time when cultural institutions are looking to the future with new ideas of audience, interpretation and preservation. She directs an integrated, multidisciplinary team of design professionals who specialize in the development of holistic architecture and engineering solutions for the most complex projects.
Having dedicated her career to cultural institutions, Anderson has over 25 years of experience in museum architecture and exhibition design. She is an expert in the development of master plans, feasibility studies and programming for museums of all scales and types, with an approach that emphasizes audience participation and integrated community engagement.
Prior to rejoining SmithGroup in 2015, she was a senior architect and exhibit designer for 13 years at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, envisioning and coordinating of some of the museum’s most successful special exhibitions, including Dada (2006) and Martin Puryear (2008), as well as installation of permanent collection galleries. She also provided in-house design review and coordination of three phased renovations to the institution’s John Russell Pope-designed West Building totaling and on the renovation and expansion of the I.M. Pei-designed East Building. Anderson has previously worked for the Smithsonian Institution and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in various roles including exhibit fabricator, designer and coordinator, and served for several years on the advisory council of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
During her first tenure with SmithGroup, Anderson served as a project architect on the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian. Today, she is managing teams on projects for Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site in Richmond, Virginia and a second location for Museum of Pop Culture in New York City, among others.
Anderson frequently lectures on topics of design and arts careers as well as museum development at many institutions, including Wake Forest University, Rhode Island School of Design, Sarasota Art Museum of the Ringling College of Art and Design, Christie’s Education, George Mason University, Equity by Design (EQxD) Symposium and American Institute of Architects Women’s Leadership Summit.
Anderson earned a Bachelor of Arts in studio arts and art history from Wake Forest University, and a Master of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design. She is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, American Association of Academic Museums, Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums and American Institute of Architects. A native of Buckingham County, Virginia, she currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.