Smithsonian Journeys Experts

Janetta Rebold Benton

photo of Janetta Rebold Benton

Janetta Rebold Benton is the Distinguished Professor of Art History at Pace University, New York. She has lectured for many years at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has served as the speaker on trips worldwide for both institutions. A former resident of Paris, she was Visiting Professor in the graduate school of art history at European University in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in the graduate school of art history at China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, on two Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards in 2012 and 2018.

Dr. Benton is the author of ten art history books (with translations into multiple languages), as well as numerous scholarly articles and reviews published in Austria, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, and the U.S. She holds degrees/diploma from Harvard University, Brown University, George Washington University, and Cornell University.

What Our Travelers Say

As with all the study leaders Smithsonian has hired, she was superlative. She brought depth of understanding to the art and architecture of what we were seeing without being pedantic and stuffy!

- Previous Journeys Traveler, France Through the Ages

Constant availability; broad knowledge; a new friend; I'd love to do another tour with her as study leader.

- Jan F., France Through the Ages

Dr. Benton was a great member of our tour community. Her extensive knowledge helped us to understand and appreciate all of the sites visited. She was always available to answer questions.

- Previous Journeys Traveler, France Through the Ages

Upcoming Tours

Treasures of the Alps: Swiss Trains and Italy's Lake District

14 days | Starting at: $7,692
May 29, 2025 - Jun 11, 2025
Tour Details ››

A River Cruise through Burgundy and Provence

9 days | Starting at: $5,490
Jul 8, 2025 - Jul 16, 2025
Tour Details ››

Q. What kinds of insights do you feel art history themes will bring to our travelers? 

A. In addition to an appreciation and enjoyment of the beauty of the art and architecture we will see, I hope people will approach art history as historical documentation of our past. Works of art are irrefutable records of social structure, economics, religious beliefs, politics, and more. The visual arts reveal the inspiration and ideas, the inventions and accomplishments of creative individuals through the centuries—shared today with Smithsonian Journeys travelers. 

Q.  What do you feel Smithsonian Journeys travelers will enjoy most on our new tour, St. Petersburg and the Baltics?

A. This outstanding itinerary features wonders of the Baltics and Russia that may be unfamiliar even to experienced travelers. In Lithuania, 15th-century Trakai Castle, on its own island, contrasts to the Baroque exuberance of the capital, Vilnius. In Latvia, the Palace of Rundale, designed by Rastrelli, will prepare you for his extravagant Hermitage in St. Petersburg, while the medieval Old Town areas of Riga and Estonia’s Tallinn take you back in time. In St. Petersburg we will stay in my favorite hotel, the Grand Hotel Europe, the ultimate in elegance and ideally located to walk almost everywhere. St. Petersburg—with pastel-colored palaces, domed churches, and a grid of canals—is unlike any other city. The Hermitage, founded by Catherine the Great, displays one of the great art collections of the world while the Peterhof palace and gardens reflect the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Romanovs. 

Q. What do you enjoy most about accompanying Smithsonian Journeys travelers? 

A. I love the people and my interactions with them! They are extremely varied in their careers, interests, lifestyles, and past experiences. Guests are assured of traveling with compatible people, which I have found result repeatedly in genuine lasting friendships based on a shared journey.