Director Emeritus Bio

Michael Monroe, Director Emeritus

For 40 years, Michael Monroe has been a vibrant and influential figure in contemporary American craft. Prior to his role as Director of Curatorial Affairs of Bellevue Arts Museum, Monroe served as an independent curator, writer and advisor. Previously, he served as Executive Director of the American Craft Council, a 30,000 member national organization whose mission is to promote an understanding and appreciation of American craft. Before joining the American Craft Council, Monroe was President of the Peter Joseph Gallery in New York City, where he organized exhibitions of leading American studio furniture artists. He has been named Director Emeritus at BAM in honor of his outstanding contributions to the Museum's success.

For 21 years, Monroe was associated with the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery, which collects and presents exhibitions that feature the creative achievements of craft artists and designers in the United States. Monroe served as curator from 1974, and in 1986, he became curator-in-charge, a position he held until 1995. From 1971 to 1974, Monroe directed the Fine Arts Gallery and taught design for the State University of New York, Oneonta.

In 1993, Monroe was invited by President William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton to organize a collection of American craft for the White House to commemorate The Year of American Craft. After its initial presentation at the White House, the collection toured the United States for ten years and was documented in a book published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. entitled The White House Collection of American Crafts. The collection was one of the first exhibitions to enjoy an international audience via the World Wide Web.

Monroe received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1971 from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, after graduating with a BS degree in art education from the University of Wisconsin in 1967. He also attended the American Academy of Art and the School of the Art Institute, both located in Chicago.

Monroe has served as juror for numerous national and international competitions, delivered lectures and organized exhibitions focusing on themes and issues in contemporary American craft. He has won numerous awards, among them the Smithsonian Institution Outstanding Employee Award (1978-1984-1989-1995) and the NICHE Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award for Craft (1996). He was also selected as an Honorary Fellow at The American Craft Council College of Fellows (1995), and most recently was honored with the prominent "Award of Distinction for Contributions to the Field of Craft" by the American Craft Council (2009).