Karen Kramer's longstanding commitment to innovative approaches to Indigenous art and culture, and her broad experiences working with Native artists, scholars, communities and other stakeholders help shape the museum's ambitious program in Native American and Oceanic Art and Culture, including the growth of its collection, its sensitive presentation and its ongoing interpretation and preservation. Over the past 20 years, Kramer helped produce more than ten major exhibitions on Native American art and culture at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), including the nationally traveling, groundbreaking exhibition T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America. She also curated Native Fashion Now, a nationally-touring exhibition that celebrated contemporary Native American fashion from the 1950s to today, and the paradigm-shifting Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art which dismantled stereotypes and explored concepts of change, worldview, and politics in historical and contemporary Native art. Kramer co-curated the new Putnam Gallery of Native American and American Art, On This Ground: Being and Belonging in America, which opened in early 2022.
Kramer co-directs PEM's innovative Native American Fellowship program, which provides training for rising Native American leaders in the museum, cultural and academic sectors. Kramer served as President, Vice-President, and as board member for the Native American Art Studies Association from 2003 to 2015. She worked on three inaugural exhibitions at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and for National NAGPRA. Kramer earned her M.A. in Anthropology from George Washington University, and her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Denver. She is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at Harvard University, pursuing a dissertation that will focus on Indigenous public art, arts-based critiques of settler colonialism, and cultural memory in the American public sector.