Elizabeth Smith is James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago where she has oversight of the MCA’s collection and exhibition program. Since joining the MCA in 1999 she has curated such exhibitions as Life Death Love Hate Pleasure Pain, a major reinstallation of the MCA’s Collection, as well as Donald Moffett: What Barbara Jordan Wore; Matta in America: Paintings and Drawings of the 1940’s; and Katharina Fritsch. She also co-organized the exhibition Age of Influence: Reflections in the Mirror of American Culture and is currently at work on forthcoming exhibitions of artists Kerry James Marshall and Lee Bontecou and architect Doug Garofalo.

Prior to joining the MCA from 1983 — 99, Smith was Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles where she curated and co-organized numerous exhibitions including Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses; Lee Bontecou: Sculpture and Drawings of the 1960s; Urban Revisions: Current Projects for the Public Realm; Out of Order: Franklin D. Israel; Toba Khedoori; Catherine Opie; Cindy Sherman: Retrospective and At the End of the Century: One Hundred Years of Architecture. In 2000 she guest-curated the exhibition The Architecture of R.M. Schindler for MOCA, Los Angeles which was named "Best Architecture or Design Exhibition of the Year" by the American section of the International Association of Art Critics.

Educated in Art History at Columbia University, Smith was Adjunct Professor in the Public Art Studies Program at the University of Southern California’s School of Fine Arts from 1992-98. She has published and lectured widely on topics in modern and contemporary art and architecture and besides the publications relating to her exhibitions has authored Techno Architecture (Thames & Hudson, 2000) and Case Study Houses: The Complete CSH Program 1945-66 (Taschen Verlag, 2002). In addition, she has served on numerous panels and juries including the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Presidential Design Awards, the Daimler/Chrysler Award, the Altoids "Curiously Strong" Awards for emerging artists, the Lucelia Award, and was a member of the architect selection committee for the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia. She is on the advisory committee of the Independent Curators International, New York, and is a member of the board of overseers of the School of the Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago.