Wonderful Women Wednesday: Dr. Mary Panzer

Each week, the Archives features a woman who has been a groundbreaker at the Smithsonian, past or present, in a series titled Wonderful Women Wednesday.

Dr. Mary Panzer was the curator of photography at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery between 1992 and 2000. There, she developed exhibitions, acquired photographs for the Museum’s collections, organized educational programs, and more. In 1997, she assisted in producing the Museum’s first website.

A few of the exhibitions Panzer worked on at the Museum included Philippe Halsman: A Retrospective (2001), Tête à Tête: Portraits by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1999), Mathew Brady Portraits: Images as History, Photography as Art (1997), and The Family, 1976: Portraits by Richard Avedon for Rolling Stone (1993). 

She is the author of Things as They Are: Photojournalism in Context Since 1955 (2005), Separate But Equal: The Mississippi Photographs of H.C. Anderson (2002), and works on photographers Philippe Halsman, Lewis Hine, and Mathew Brady. 

Panzer earned a Ph.D. in American and New England studies from Boston University in 1990, a master’s in english and comparative literature from Columbia University in 1980, and a bachelor’s in english from Yale University in 1976. 

Screenshot of Panzer on C-SPAN when she was a curator at the National Portrait Gallery.

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