Joanna Mendelssohn, along with Catherine De Lorenzo, Alison Inglis and Catherine Speck, is the author of Australian Art Exhibitions: Opening our eyes, published by Thames and Hudson, Australia, 2018. This project is the culmination of an ARC Linkage Project with UNSW, University of Melbourne and University of Adelaide in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia and Museums Australia.
She was for many years the coordinator of the Master of Art Administration, at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW where she is now an honorary associate professor. She originally came to her academic career after an extensive curatorial background in art museums and as the award winning art critic of The Bulletin.
Her first book was the seminal study on Sydney Long (1979). This was followed by a series of studies on Lionel Lindsay. The research for her book, Lionel Lindsay: an artist and his family (Chatto & Windus, London 1988) was supported by a Literature Board Fellowship. She later revisited the ways in which the mythology of the Lindsay family had been created in her PhD thesis which was then reworked and published as Letters & Liars: Norman Lindsay and the Lindsay family (Angus & Robertson 1996). She wrote the catalogue for the 1990 Yellow House exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and was curator for the touring exhibition Larter Family Values (2006).
In 2003 Mendelssohn was instrumental in organising the national collaboration of universities and cultural institutions that ensured the future of Joan Kerr's research for The Dictionary of Australian Artists by creating the Dictionary of Australian Artists Online, which has now evolved into Design and Art of Australia Online (aka DAAO).