Joanna Mendelssohn was one of the first graduates in Fine Arts at the University of Sydney, studying under Bernard Smith and Donald Brook. She first worked as a curatorial assistant at the Art Gallery of New South Wales under Daniel Thomas before becoming assistant director at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery and then curator at the SH Ervin Art Gallery and Museum. In 1988 she became the art critic for The Bulletin, and in 1991 was awarded the Geraldine Pascall Prize for art criticism. She began teaching in Art Administration and Art History at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW in 1990 and as a result undertook a PhD at the University of Sydney. She is now an honorary principal fellow at the Centre of Visual Arts, University of Melbourne. In 2003 she initiated the partnerships that led to the original Dictionary of Australian Artists Online, and is the current editor in chief of daao.org.au. Her most recent book, written with Catherine De Lorenzo, Alison Inglis and Catherine Speck, Australian Art Exhibitions: Opening Our Eyes (Thames &Hudson 2018) is an examination of how Australian art and its exhibitions has helped shape our understanding of both our past and ourselves.