The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Art Department was established in 1976 with James Dean as curator from 1975-1978. In 1978, Mary Henderson succeeded Dean as head of the department, and she served until December 1996 when the department was dissolved. Other curatorial staff included William Good and Susan Lawson-Bell (1985-1996). The Art Department was responsible for the collections management of the Museum's art collections, the operation of the Flights and Arts Gallery, and its personnel curated art exhibitions and maintained correspondence with artists. Many active files were transferred to Dom Pisano of the Department of Aeronautics.
These records were created and/or maintained by Susan Lawson-Bell, and document most of the exhibitions curated by the department staff. Additional records document collections management activities, art reproduction issues, and acquisitions.
The administrative records document the activities of the Art Department and its collections of air and space related artwork. Included is information on art reproductions, catalogs, conservation, acquisitions, and NASM Loan Committee activities.
The exhibition records document the majority of the Art Department's exhibitions of air and space related artwork, consisting of exhibition scripts, photo documentation of exhibits, photographic reproductions of art work, press clippings, and other related material. Some exhibition records are missing. Consult the Archives' control file for a comprehensive list of exhibitions by the Art Department.
The correspondence files were created and maintained by Lawson-Bell and consist of incoming and outgoing letters, 1988-1996. Topics include public inquiries for art reproductions and artists' biographies, and offers to sell or donate works of art.