Eleanor Harvey was born in Washington, D.C., and earned a B.A. with distinction from the University of Virginia, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University, in Art History. She served as curator of the Dallas Museum of Art, where she was appointed in 2000. In January 2003, she became a curator for the Luce Foundation Center for American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum,  and served as the museum's Chief Curator from 2003 until 2012. Her research interests include 19th- and 20th-century American art, landscape painting, southwestern abstraction and Texas art. Her most recent exhibitions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum are The Civil War and American Art in 2012-13, Variations on America: Masterworks from the American Art Forum Collections in 2007 and An Impressionist Sensibility: The Halff Collection in 2006.