Wonderful Women Wednesday: Kathleen Varnell

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.

Kathleen Varnell was an exhibits specialist between 2001 and 2012 with the Smithsonian’s Office of Exhibits Central, where she led day-to-day operations in the graphics unit and as a point person for the production and installation of exhibitions. As a senior specialist, Varnell interpreted and implemented design concepts and layouts for graphics in exhibitions. In the role, she also served as the project manager for the annual Smithsonian Women’s Committee Craft Show. 

After her time with the Smithsonian, Varnell transitioned to a role as curator at the Mississippi Museum of Art.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University and an M.F.A. in ceramics from Howard University.  

A talented ceramic artist, Varnell has exhibited her work at the Mississippi Museum of Art, Howard University, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, and beyond.

 Varnell works on a clay project in a studio.

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