Carolyn Russo is the curator of the art collection, trophy collection, and temporary curator of the poster collection in her capacity as a museum specialist. She is the lead curator of the art gallery and is planning upcoming art exhibitions for its anticipated reopening in 2026. With over 30 years of experience at the Museum, Russo is the author of four books: Art of the Airport Tower (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 2015), In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight (New York: powerHouse Books, 2007), Artifacts of Flight (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003), and Women and Flight: Portraits of Contemporary Women Pilots (Boston, New York, London: Bulfinch Press, 1997).
Curated exhibits for the National Air and Space Museum include:
- Art of the Airport Tower, November 2015 – to present (traveling tour)
- In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight (co-curated with Anne Collins Goodyear), 2009 to 2015
- Great Picture, April 2014 – November 2014
- High Art: A Decade of Collecting (Co-curator), July 2013 – December 2013
- Searching for Goldilocks by Angela Palmer, July 2013 – December 2013
- Aircraft: The Jet as Art by Jeffrey Milstein, November 2011 – November 2012
- Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World, July 2009 – January 2010
- Women and Flight: Portraits of Contemporary Women Pilots, 1997-1998, and a seven-year tour with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.
Russo is a 2019 recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Research Residency and a 2016 recipient of the 9th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards for Women Photographers in the architecture category. Art of the Airport Tower received international photography awards, and the book received second place in the 2016 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Publications Design Competition. In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight was awarded second prize in the 2008 AAM Publications Design Competition, and Artifacts of Flight received awards in 2004 from the American Institute of Graphic Arts 50 Books/50 Covers Competition and the AAM Publications Design Competition.
In 2009, Russo was invited to Finland by the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki on the State Department Speaker Program. In 2011, she participated at the International Photography Festival in Lishui, China. Russo has attended artist-in-residencies programs in Finland, Iceland, and Scotland. Russo holds a BFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA, and an M.A. in North American Art History from American University in Washington, D.C.
Art of the Airport Tower is a photographic journey to airports in the U.S. and around the world. This book, the companion volume to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum exhibition of the same name, explores 85 historic and contemporary airport towers through more than 100 fine art photographs by Carolyn Russo.
Art of the Airport Tower explores contemporary and historic air traffic control towers in the United States and around the world.
High Art: A Decade of Collecting presents 50 works acquired by the Museum from 2003 to 2013.