Staff Biographies

Claudine Brown

Assistant Secretary for Education and Access

June 21, 2010

Claudine K. Brown is the assistant secretary for education and access for the Smithsonian Institution. She is responsible for defining the Smithsonian’s education program and reports directly to Secretary Wayne Clough. Her focus is the Institution-wide plan for educational initiatives, assessment strategies and funding for students in the K-12 range. Brown oversees two of the Smithsonian’s educational organizations—the National Science Resources Center and the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies—and coordinates 32 education-based offices in museums and science centers.

Brown had been the director of the arts and culture program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York since 1995. In 1990, she joined the Smithsonian to serve as director of the National African-American Museum Project. In this position, she coordinated the efforts of advisory committees that considered the role of the Smithsonian in the development of a national museum devoted to exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture. She developed the Institution’s final study on the project and a program plan for the proposed museum. In 1991, she also became the deputy assistant secretary for the arts and humanities and developed policy for many Smithsonian museums.

As director of the arts and culture program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Brown positioned the organization as a leading arts grantmaker that supports institutions that are committed to excellence, diversity and community involvement. During the early years of her tenure at the foundation, Brown worked to strengthen community-based arts education programs. More recently, she has worked with innovative organizations that have helped creative young people acquire
new-media literacy.

From 1977 to 1990, Brown held several positions at The Brooklyn Museum: museum educator (1977-1982), manager of school and community programs (1982-1984) and assistant director for government and community relations (1985).

In addition to working in the museum and philanthropy communities, Brown has served for more than 20 years as a faculty advisor and instructor in the Leadership in Museum Education Program at Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York City, giving her the opportunity to work with some of the pre-eminent museum evaluators, educators and thinkers in the field. Many of the more than 200 students Brown advised and taught are now directors of education and managers at art, history, natural history, science and children’s museums throughout the country. 

Brown earned her bachelor’s degree from Pratt Institute in New York City and master’s degree in museum education from Bank Street College of Education. She earned her law degree from Brooklyn Law School.

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Claudine Brown, Assistant Secretary for Education and Access

Photo: Amanda Lucidon for Smithsonian

Claudine Brown

Assistant Secretary for Education and Access at the Smithsonian Institution, effective June 2010