Smithsonian Journeys Experts

Janetta Rebold Benton

photo of Janetta Rebold Benton

Janetta Rebold Benton is 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 lecturer on trips worldwide for both institutions. A former resident of Paris, she recently returned from St. Petersburg, Russia, where she was Visiting Professor in the Graduate School of Art History at European University as a Fulbright Senior Scholar. Dr. Benton is the author of eight art history books (with translations into French, Chinese, and Farsi), as well as numerous scholarly articles published in France, Italy, Austria, Germany, and elsewhere. She holds degrees/diplomas 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


9 days | Starting at: $4,290
Jul 12, 2017 - Jul 20, 2017

A One-Week Stay in England
Tour Details ››

St. Petersburg and the Baltics

14 days | Starting at: $5,198
Aug 15, 2017 - Aug 28, 2017
Tour Details ››

Highlights of Italy

16-17 days | Starting at: $5,784
May 21, 2018 - Jun 5, 2018
Tour Details ››

Great European Journey

11 days | Starting at: $5,495
Jun 12, 2018 - Jun 22, 2018

A River Cruise and Train Trip from Holland to Switzerland
Tour Details ››

A Q&A with Expert Janetta Rebold Benton

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.