Wesley Chenault is the Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives and Programs for the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives (SLA). He oversees outreach, communications, education and exhibitions, and supports the development and implementation of strategic initiatives and programs within the unit and pan-institutionally across the Smithsonian. Chenault holds over 20 years of experience in research settings, with a focus on rare and distinctive collections in museum, public and academic libraries. Previously he was director of the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University, where he oversaw collections, programs and research services. His prior positions include work with the Herndon Home, the Atlanta History Center, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries.
Chenault is a published scholar, with articles authored and co-authored in edited volumes, such as Educational Programs: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections and Queer South Rising: Voices of Contested Place, and academic peer-reviewed journals and encyclopedias. Chenault has exhibited widely as an individual and in collaborations. For the latter, he was a founding member of idea collective John Q, whose interests in public scholarship, interventions and memory have been featured in educational programming and exhibitions across the nation, from the GLBT Historical Society Museum & Archives in San Francisco to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Atlanta. Outside of the collective, Chenault’s curatorial work spans his career, most recently as a co-curator for the exhibition, Social Fabric: Land, Labor, and the World the Textile Industry Created at Cornell University.
Chenault holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Auburn University, a master’s degree in women’s studies from Georgia State University and a doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. A member of several library and museum organizations, he has certifications from the Archives Leadership Institute from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians from Harvard University.