Rex Ellis

Dr. Rex M. Ellis

Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Smithsonian Institution

600 Maryland Avenue SW Suite 7001

Washington, DC 20013-7012

Phone: 202-633-9468

Fax: 202-633-4816

E-mail: ellisrm@SI.EDU

Dr. Rex M. Ellis is presently the Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) at the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Ellis is charged with the responsibility for planning, developing, directing, and managing all curatorial, collections, education and outreach programs and activities. Curatorial Affairs is the primary implementing office of the museum’s mission. In this regard, the office develops preserves, documents, interprets, and makes accessible to diverse audiences the scholarship and collections of the museum through exhibitions, education, and public programs. The Museum, the first of its kind on the National Mall, is due to be completed by fall of 2015.


Prior to this position, Dr. Ellis was Vice President of the Historic Area for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he oversaw all programs and operations. Ellis was the first African American Vice President in the Foundation’s history and served in that position for eight years.

He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Masters in Fine Arts from Wayne State University, a Masters of Divinity from Virginia Union University, and an Ed.D from the College of William and Mary.

He has contributed articles to such publications as The Journal of American History, The Colonial Williamsburg Journal, August House Publications, and History News. He is the author of two books, Beneath the Blazing Sun: Stories from the African American Journey and With a Banjo on My Knee which chronicles the history of black banjo players from the time of slavery to the present.

He has memberships in the Screen Actor's Guild, The American Association of Museums, The American Association for State and Local History, the National Association of Black Storytellers, and the National Storytelling Association. He has served as consultant to organizations such as the Midland Independent School District, in Texas; The Los Angeles County School District, Old Salem Village, the Henry Ford Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, The National Constitution Center, Monticello, Mt. Vernon, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, and the Puerto Rican Preservation Trust. He has also worked with various institutions in Johannesburg, Capetown, Pretoria, and Robben Island, South Africa, as well as institutions in Masterton, New Zealand, Paris, France, Ghana, West Africa, and Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, Israel.

His presentations, lectures, workshops and consultancies focus on, public programming, diversity, interpretation, and African American History and culture. His disciplinary interests also include the spoken word, and early American History, with special emphasis on slavery.