Beth Harris

About Beth Harris

Beth is co-founder and executive editor for Smarthistory and faculty emeritus at Khan Academy. Previously, she was dean of art and history at Khan Academy. She works with leading museums to bring their content to new global audiences and acquires, edits, and publishes short essays on art and history by leading academics. She was the first director of digital learning at The Museum of Modern Art, where she started MoMA Courses Online and co-produced educational videos, websites and apps. Before joining MoMA, Beth was Associate Professor of art history and director of distance learning at the Fashion Institute of Technology where she taught both online and in the classroom. She has co-authored, with Dr. Steven Zucker, numerous articles on the future of education and the future of museums, topics she regularly addresses at conferences around the world. She received her Master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and her doctorate in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Does art need to be beautiful? Why have artists so often turned to the subject of the nude? Does art need to be realistic? This section answers some of the big questions in art history.

Issues in art history

James Turrell, Skyscape, The Way of Color
From the skyscapes to shoelaces — art as diverse as our contemporary culture.

Contemporary America

Grant Wood, American Gothic, detail
We think about the city and the country as opposites, but they have more to do with one another than you would expect.

City and country

The United States is a country of immigrants, but the issue of immigration has long divided its citizens.


Benny Andrews, Flag Day, 1966
American art shows us the reality and effects of racism and slavery, and often points the way to social justice.

From slavery to civil rights