Initially specializing in prehistoric art, Kendrick turned in the 1930s to Viking and Anglo-Saxon art, for which his two survey volumes were long standard references. Kendrick was Director of the British Museum from 1950 until he retired in 1959. He believed in cleaning museum objects, but this resulted in numerous bronze artifacts in his department being overcleaned. He was a keen advocate of Victorian art, with assistance from the poet John Betjeman and the painter John Piper, amongst others. Kendrick's notes on Victorian stained glass were used by Nikolaus Pevsner for his Buildings of England series (Pevsner Architectural Guides).