The Regents get a new chief of staff, the Renwick has a new curator and the head of SITES is moving on

Feb. 14, 2014 Coming? Going? Let your colleagues know! Submit items to torch@si.edu and put “On the Move” in the subject line. Be sure to include contact information and a picture as an attachment. We love pictures!

Traveling Exhibition Service


Anna Cohn

After 25 years of service, Anna R. Cohn has stepped down as Director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. SITES is one of the largest traveling exhibition programs in the world, and for nearly 60 years it has been the Institution’s main exhibits ambassador beyond Washington, D.C.

During Cohn’s tenure, SITES has toured groundbreaking, influential exhibitions, including “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden,” “September 11: Bearing Witness to History,” “381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story” and “American Sabor.” She also was instrumental in creating Museums on Main Street, an initiative that brings the Smithsonian to small towns across America.

Cohn joined the Smithsonian in 1983 as director of “The Precious Legacy,” a major international exhibition provided on loan from the Czechoslovak State Collections and composed of Judaic treasures that had been confiscated during the Holocaust. She later organized “Generations” (1987), the inaugural exhibition for the S. Dillon Ripley Center’s International Gallery.

Myriam Springuel has agreed to return to SITES to serve as Interim Director. In her former role as Associate Director for Programs at SITES, she translated its mission into strategic planning, supervised 30 project directors, and was responsible for 60 exhibitions annually that traveled to museums of all sizes and disciplines. reat thanks to Myriam for agreeing to return to the Smithsonian to serve as Interim Director of SITES.

Renwick Gallery

Nora Atkinson

Nora Atkinson

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has appointed Nora Atkinson as the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, a newly endowed position at its Renwick Gallery. Atkinson will acquire artworks for the museum’s permanent collection and organize exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery following a major renovation of its historic building, currently underway. She joins Nicholas R. Bell, The Fleur and Charles Bresler Senior Curator of American Craft and Decorative Art, on staff at the Renwick Gallery. Atkinson begins work at the museum March 10.

Atkinson comes to the museum from the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Wash. where she has been a curator since 2006 with a focus on art, craft and design. Recent exhibitions include “Fragile Fortress: The Art of Dan Webb” (2014), “Making Mends” (2012), “Lisa Gralnick: The Gold Standard” (2010) and “The Book Borrowers: Contemporary Artists Transforming the Book” (2009). She earned a master’s degree from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2006.

Office of the Regents

Porter Wilkinson is the new Chief of Staff to the Regents. She heads the Office of the Regents and reports directly to its Board. The Chief of Staff provides counsel and senior-staff support to the Board, facilitates communication with key Smithsonian leadership and provides Regents’ input with respect to the overall management, coordination and oversight of the Smithsonian.

Porter Wilkinson

Porter Wilkinson

Before joining the Smithsonian, Wilkinson practiced law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where she was a member of the Appellate and Constitutional Law and Labor and Employment practice groups. She also served on the firm’s Hiring and Ethics Committees.

Wilkinson was a law clerk to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States and to Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Wilkinson graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was an articles editor on the Virginia Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif and the Raven Society. She received her Bachelor of Arts with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a three-time All-America selection in women’s lacrosse. In 2012, she was inducted into the Virginia Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Wilkinson replaces John Lapiana, who is now Deputy Under Secretary for Finance and Administration.



Posted: 14 February 2014
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.