BLACK CURATORS have risen to significant positions at important institutions in the United States and internationally over the past year. In a field where people of color have historically been underrepresented, this 2019 listing of new curatorial and arts leadership appointments demonstrates the growing influence of people of African descent in the visual arts.

There were some newsmakers and history makers this year. Most prominently, Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the National Museum of Africa American History and Culture, was appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., leading “the largest museum, education, and research complex in the world.”

After the resounding success of her critically recognized exhibition “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today,” independent curator Denise Murrell was hired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the appointment of Ashley James made her the first black curator on staff in the New York museum’s 80-year history. Prior to her hiring, guest curator Chaédria LaBouvier became the first black person to serve as sole curator of an exhibition at the Guggenheim, when “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story” opened at the museum in June.

Beyond museums, Ashley R. Harris is moving in sectors with minimal black representation: auction houses and art fairs. After three years at Sotheby’s, Harris was appointed executive director of the Independent Art Fair in New York. Also on the art fair circuit, Eva Langret was named artistic director of Frieze London. In terms of arts funding, Rashida Bumbray was elevated to a powerful new role directing art and culture grants at the Open Society Foundations in New York.

Meanwhile, forthcoming biennial-style exhibitions in Texas, Tennessee, and Bermuda, and at the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA PS1, are being organized and co-curated by black curators.

This listing of 2019 appointments follows round ups published by Culture Type in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Across the visual arts spectrum, curators and arts leaders are shaping exhibition programming, museum acquisitions, and artist support, opportunities, market exposure, and more. A selection of 2019 appointments follows:

 


Zoé Whitley earned her Ph.D. from the University of Central Lancashire under the supervision artist and professor Lubaina Himid. | Photo by Takis Zontiros​, Southbank Centre

 
​Zo​é ​Whitley, Senior Curator | Hayward Gallery, London

Hayward Gallery at Southbank Centre in London appointed Zoé Whitley senior curator in January. She officially started April 8. Since 2017, Whitley had been serving as curator of international art at Tate Modern, where she co-organized “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” More recently, she curated the British Pavilion presentation by Cathy Wilkes at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Previously, she was a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (2003-2013), and has also organized exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2013-2014) and Johannesburg Art Fair (2017).

FIND MORE about Zoé Whitley on Culture Type

 


Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung curated the Finland Pavilion at 2019 edition of the Venice Biennale. He has also held curatorial roles at documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, and the 2018 Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal. | Photo by Alexander Steffens

 
Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Artistic Director | Sonsbeek 2020, Arnhem, The Netherlands

On Feb. 1, Sonsbeek 2020 announced the appointment of Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung as artistic director. The international exhibition is held in Arnhem, The Netherlands. Cameroon-born Ndikung founded SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin, an art space, performance platform, and hub for gathering. He was serving as a guest professor for curatorial studies and sound art at the Städelschule in Frankfurt when the appointment was announced. Sonsbeek now takes place every four years and the forthcoming 12th edition runs June 5-Sept. 13, 2020.

 


Raina Lampkins-Fielder was associate director and chair of education at the Whitney Museum of American Art when “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” (2002-03) was presented at the museum. She oversaw programming for the landmark exhibition. | Photo by Ana Bloom, Courtesy Souls Grown Deep Foundation

 
Raina Lampkins-Fielder, Curator | Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Atlanta

On Feb. 14, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta announced the appointment of Raina Lampkins-Fielder as curator. Lampkins-Fielder is a Paris-based art historian, museum educator, and curator of 20th century and contemporary American Art, with expertise specific to African American creative expression. She most recently served as artistic director and curator at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art (MBAC) in Paris. The Souls Grown Deep is devoted to “documenting, preserving, and promoting” works by African American artists from the South and has focused in recent years in placing artworks in museums across the United States through gift/purchase arrangements. The hiring of Lampkins-Fielder will help expand the foundation’s activities internationally. She began Feb. 13, forging ties with European museums while establishing a regular presence in the United States. Her extensive prior experience includes serving as director of academic advising for the Paris College of Art (formerly Parsons Paris School of Art + Design) and chair of the museum program for the New York State Council for the Arts. Lampkins-Fielder has also worked at the Brooklyn Museum, New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, among other roles. She earned a B.A. in English literature from Yale University, and an M.A. in the history of art at Cambridge University, England, as a Mellon Fellow.

“The mission and commitment of the Foundation to enlarge the canon of art history to include artists of the African American South is both compelling and timely, and I look forward to building international collaborations in service of those goals.” — Raina Lampkins-Fielder

 


Naima J. Keith is co-curating Prospect.5 New Orleans with Diana Nawi. The triennial opens Oct. 24, 2020. | Photo by Cristina Gandolfo, Expo Chicago

 
Naima J. Keith, VP of Education and Public Programs | Los Angeles County Museum of Art

After serving for three years as deputy director and chief curator at the California African American Museum (CAAM), Naima J. Keith accepted a position at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Keith was named vice president of education and public programs at LACMA in February. She joined CAAM in February 2016, after serving as associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2011-2016. A native of Los Angeles, Keith graduated from Spelman College with a BA in art history and earned a masters in contemporary art from UCLA. The LACMA appointment was effective April 1.

 


Koyo Kouoh presented “Dig Where You Stand,” at the Carnegie International 2018 in Pittsburgh. After mining the collection of the Carnegie Museum of Art, she mounted an exhibition within an exhibition designed to “reflect on the institution, its history, and colonialism.” | Courtesy Zeitz MOCAA

 
Koyo Kouoh, Executive Director and Chief Curator | Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa

Africa’s largest contemporary art museum hired a new leader on March 4. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town, South Africa, announced the appointment of Koyo Kouoh as executive director and chief curator. An international curator and cultural producer, Kouoh brings two decades of experience to the position. Her work spans Africa, Europe, and the United States and includes exhibition planning, public programming and publishing. She founded RAW Material Company in Dakar, Senegal, in 2008. The organization supports African and international artists and curators, providing critical education, exhibition space, public programs, and a residency program. Kouoh has curated the educational and artistic programming for the London and New York editions of the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, served as a curatorial adviser for Documenta 12 (2007) and 13 (2012), and has also held institutional positions. She officially joined Zeitz MOCAA on May 6.

 


Prior to his appointment at MoMA, Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi was curator of African art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. He was the first black curator ever hired by the Cleveland institution since it was founded more than a century ago in 1913. | Photo by Howard Agriesti, The Cleveland Museum of Art

 
Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Curator | Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y.

On March 6, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) named Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi the first-ever Steven and Lisa Tananbaum Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture. Nzewi had been serving as curator of African art at the Cleveland Museum of Art since August 2017. Previously, he was curator of African Art at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art. He was also a fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. (2012). Nzewi earned a Ph.D., in art history from Emory University in Atlanta and has a postgraduate diploma from the African Program in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of Western Cape, South Africa. He began working at MoMA July 22.

“I am honored to join MoMA as it continues the necessary task of telling an expansive and more inclusive story of 20th- and 21st-century art. I look forward to collaborating with colleagues across departments in addressing historical gaps through purposeful acquisitions, advancing new programs and exhibitions that enrich our knowledge of global art, and, ultimately, in writing the next chapter in the history of this institution.” — Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

 


The academic credentials of LeRonn P. Brooks include a Ph.D., in art history from the CUNY Graduate Center and a BFA from Hunter College. | Photo by Kay Hickman, Courtesy The Getty

 
LeRonn P. Brooks, Associate Curator | Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles announced a new hire on March 21. LeRonn P. Brooks was named associate curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections, specializing in African American art. When the appointment was announced, Brooks was an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies at Lehman College in The Bronx, New York. He recently served as a curator for The Racial Imaginary Institute, which was founded by author/poet Claudia Rankine, and the Bronx Council on the Arts. His newly created Getty position is part of the research institute‘s ambitious new African American Art History Initiative announced September 2018. Brooks is charged with building collections—sourcing original art historical documents and acquiring artist archives—and organizing programming related to African American art. He officially started in June.

FIND MORE about the Getty’s African American Art History Initiative on Culture Type

 


Larry Ossei-Mensah curated “Glenn Kaino: When A Pot Finds Its Purpose,” the first exhibition presented in the new visual art space at the Brooklyn Academy of Arts. | Photo by Andrew Boyle

 
Larry Ossei-Mensah, Guest Curator, Rudin Family Gallery | Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) announced its first space dedicated to visual art exhibitions and the appointment of Larry Ossei-Mensah as guest curator of the gallery. Named in honor of BAM Trustee Beth Rudin DeWoody, the Rudin Family Gallery is part of BAM Strong, a major institutional project launched in October 2019 that includes building improvements, expanded programming, improved audience accessibility and affordability, and a greater commitment to visual art. At the time of the appointment, Ossei-Mensah was serving as the Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. An active independent curator who organizes exhibitions internationally, he is also a co-founder of ARTNOIR, a global collective of creatives that designs a variety of cultural programs and art experiences.

 


Vedet Coleman-Robinson joined AAAM from the National Park Service where she managed grants for HBCUs and the preservation of America’s historic places and diverse history. | Courtesy Association of African American Museums

 
Vedet Coleman-Robinson, Executive Director | Association of African American Museums, Washington, D.C.

Vedet Coleman-Robinson was named executive director of the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) at the end of March. The Washington, D.C.-based organization’s member museums are dedicated to African and African America art, culture, and history. Affiliates include national and local institutions. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a member, along with the likes of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Mo.; Amistad Research Center in New Orleans; Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit; David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park; and Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn.

 


Courtney J. Martin is a curator, art historian, and professor, with a background in British art. She edited “Four Generations: The Joyner Giuffrida Collection of Abstract Art.” A new expanded edition of the volume was published last month.

 
Courtney J. Martin, Director | Yale Center for British Art, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

In April, Courtney J. Martin was named director of the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA), succeeding Amy Meyers, who retired after serving as director since 2002. Martin’s appointment marks the first change in leadership at the center in nearly 20 years. She had been serving as deputy director and chief curator of the Dia Art Foundation since 2017. Martin previously worked at the Ford Foundation and the Dia Art Foundation and held faculty posts at Vanderbilt University and Brown University. A Yale alum, Martin earned a Ph.D., in art history from Yale University. Her tenure at YCBA began in July.

Courtney J. Martin said she is looking forward to the “opportunity to expand what we think of as British art, not only for the 20th and 21st centuries, but for all periods.”

 


Rehema C. Barber previously served as director and chief curator at the Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill.

 
Rehema C. Barber, Chief Curator | Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Rehema C. Barber joined the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) in April. She serves as chief curator at KIA, where executive director Belinda Tate is one of the few African Americans leading a mainstream U.S. art museum. Months into Barber’s tenure, KIA hosted the traveling exhibition “Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem” (Sept. 14-Dec. 8, 2019). Barber’s background includes roles at Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill.; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s School of Art + Design; and University of Memphis, Memphis College of Art; Power House Memphis; and the Amistad Center at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. She holds an MA in art history from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in art history from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

 


In a prior role, Natasha L. Logan served as assistant director of career development at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she advised hundreds of emerging artists. | Photo by Nicholas Prakas, Courtesy Creative Time

 
Natasha L. Logan, Deputy Director | Creative Time, New York, N.Y.

Creative Time announced the appointment of Natasha L. Logan as deputy director on June 27. The public arts nonprofit presented Kara Walker’s monumental sugar sphinx in Brooklyn (2014) and staged Nick Cave’s herd of dancing horses in Grand Central Station (2013). Promoted from within the organization, Logan joined Creative Time in in 2016. She has served as a project manager and director of programming, among other roles. Logan has an eclectic professional background, having engaged with artists across disciplines as a multimedia arts and cultural producer. Key experiences include managing the studio of conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas and serving as co-executive producer of “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” Terence Nance’s critically recognized debut feature film. Logan received an undergraduate degree in English literature and African American studies from the University of Virginia.

 


Jamillah James is also co-curating the 2021 New Museum Triennial. Her appointment to that post was announced in 2018. | Photo by Paul Sepuya

 
Jamillah James, Focus Section Curator | 2020 Armory Show, New York, N.Y.

On May 22, the Armory Show announced its 2020 curatorial team, which includes Jamillah James, curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. James was tapped to organize the Focus section of New York City art fair. Focus features solo- and dual-artist exhbitions presenting some of “today’s most relevant and compelling artworks.” The Armory Show is scheduled March 5-8, 2020.

FIND MORE about Jamillah James on her website

 


Melanie A. Adams was president of the Association of Midwest Museums from 2014 to 2016, and she currently serves on the council of the American Association for State and Local History. | Photo by Michael Barnes

 
Melanie A. Adams, Director | Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, D.C.

On May 23, the Smithsonian named Melanie A. Adams director of the Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C. She officially started Aug. 5. Adams came from the Minnesota Historical Society where she served as deputy director for learning initiatives. Previously, she was managing director at the Missouri Historical Society for 11 years. Adams earned a bachelor’s degree in English/African-American studies from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in education from the University of Vermont, and holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Missouri St. Louis. The Anacostia museum was established in 1967 to bring the Smithsonian from the National Mall into the community and highlight local African American history and culture. In October, the museum re-opened after a seven-month, $4.5 million renovation, under the new leadership of Adams.

 


In addition to her position at the National Portrait Gallery, Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw curated the Barnes Foundation’s presentation of “30 Americans,” on view at the Philadelphia museum through Jan. 12, 2020. | Courtesy National Portrait Gallery

 
Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Director of History, Research and Scholarship and Senior Historian | National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., announced the appointment of Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw as director of history, research and scholarship and senior historian on May 23. In her new post, she is collaborating with the Smithsonian museum’s history, curatorial, and audience engagement departments on scholarly programming. She is the first woman and first African American to hold the position. Shaw was serving as undergraduate chair and associate professor of the history of art at the University of Pennsylvania when she was hired by the Smithsonian and is on leave through spring 2020. Her published volumes include “Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker” (2004) and “Portraits of a People: Picturing African Americans in the Nineteenth Century” (2006) and “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art” (2014) the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition catalog. Shaw has a doctorate in art history from Stanford University.

FIND MORE about Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw on her website

 


Lonnie G. Bunch III’s appointment to the Smithsonian’s top post is unprecedented. He is the first African American, first historian, and first museum director to serve as secretary of the Smithsonian. | Courtesy NMAAHC

 
Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary | Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

In a rare move, the Smithsonian selected its new secretary from within its ranks, naming Lonnie G. Bunch III to lead the vast institution. The appointment was announced May 28, Bunch began serving in the position June 16, and months later, in a Nov. 1 ceremony, he was officially installed as secretary. Bunch was serving as founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) when he was tapped for the top post. Previously, he also worked at two other Smithsonian museums—the National Museum of American History and the National Air & Space Museum. Bunch is the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian. Described as “the largest museum, education, and research complex in the world,” the institution includes 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research centers, and the National Zoo.

FIND MORE about Lonnie Bunch’s official installation ceremony on Culture Ttype

“A long and proud history undergirds the Smithsonian. As a historian, I appreciate the weight of this legacy. While we should respect and revel in the past, we must never be trapped by our traditions… I am deeply proud of this legacy, but even prouder about the work that is yet to come.”
— Lonnie Bunch

 


Spencer Crew developed “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968” as a guest curator. The exhibition is one of the permanent displays that debuted with the grand opening of National Museum of African America History and Culture. | Courtesy George Mason University

 
Spencer Crew, Interim Director | National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.

Over the past six months, Spencer R. Crew has been serving as interim director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African America History and Culture (NMAAHC). His appointment came in the wake of May 28 announcement that NMAAHC Founding Director Lonnie G. Bunch would be departing to helm the entire Smithsonian Institution. Crew is on a leave of absence from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where he is a professor of U.S. history. Previously, Crew served as director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH), from 1994 to 2001. He was the first African American director of the museum and also its youngest. Crew left NMAH to become founding president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. The museum opened in 2004 and led the institution for six years.

 


A prominent collector of African American art and active member of the Los Angeles arts community, Arthur Lewis is a board member at The Hammer Museum and The Underground Museum. | Photo by Alex J. Berliner/ABImages, Courtesy UTA

 
Arthur Lewis, Creative Director | UTA Fine Arts and UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles

On June 11, United Talent Agency (UTA) named Arthur Lewis creative director of UTA Artist Space. He is leading the fine arts arm of UTA, the Los Angeles-based talent and entertainment firm, a role that includes serving as creative director of UTA Fine Arts and UTA Artist Space, and entails advising visual artists represented by the agency and overseeing exhibitions, programming and partnerships through its Beverly Hills presentation and event space. UTA Fine Arts assists artists in their pursuit of projects beyond the traditional contemporary art sector, guiding ventures in film and television, for example. The fine arts division also helps clients in other creative disciplines navigate the art world. An expert in brand management, merchandising, and product development, Lewis previously served as an executive vice president at Kohl’s, where he oversaw product design and development in the retailer’s New York design office. He has also held executive posts at HSN, HauteLook, and Gap Inc.

 


Tennessee Triennial Curators: From left, Teka Selman, a Durham, N.C.-based independent curator, and Lauren Haynes, curator of contemporary art at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., and curator of visual arts at the Momentary, Crystal Bridge’s forthcoming contemporary art space in downtown Bentonville. | Photo by Derrick Beasley

 
Lauren Haynes and Teka Selman, Co-Curators | 2021 Tennessee Triennial

In June, Lauren Haynes and Teka Selman were named co-curators of the first-ever Tennessee Triennial for Contemporary Art. Launching next year, the new triennial is scheduled for Feb. 5-May 2, 2021. Produced by the nonprofit Tri-Star Arts, Haynes and Selman are organizing exhibitions and programming spanning museums, universities, and art spaces across Tennessee, from Nashville and Memphis to Knoxville and Chattanooga.

FIND MORE about Teka Selman on her website

 


Jean-Michel Basquiat scholar Chaédria LaBouvier (left) in conversation with photographer and visual artist Nona Faustine during the Guggenheim Museum’s Summer of Know series (2017). | Photo by Ed Marshall, Guggenheim Museum

 
Chaédria LaBouvier, Guest Curator | Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, N.Y.

Chaédria LaBouvier is the first black person to serve as sole curator of an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum since it was founded 80 years ago. She served as guest curator of “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story” (June 21-Nov. 6, 2019). The exhibition was based on her groundbreaking research. An independent scholar, LaBouvier spent 15 years studying Basquiat and the significance of his 1983 painting “Defacement.” He made the work in response to fellow artist Michael Stewart being beaten to death by New York City transit police. Centered around “Defacement,” the exhibition considered Basquiat’s “exploration of black identity, his protest against police brutality, and his attempts to craft a singular aesthetic language of empowerment.”

READ MORE about Chaédria LaBouvier’s historic turn at the Guggenheim

 


Nana Adusei-Poku curated Longing on a Large Scale, a series of programs accompanying the exhibition “Todd Gray: Euclidean Gris Gris” at the Pomona College Museum of Art (Sept. 3, 2019-May 17, 2020).

 
Nana Adusei-Poku, Senior Academic Advisor and Luma Foundation Fellow | Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) announced the appointment of Nana Adusei-Poku as senior academic advisor and Luma Foundation Fellow on July 18. During her tenure, Adusei-Poku is helping to shape the academic program at CCS Bard, which focuses on “the study of contemporary art, the institutions and practices of exhibition-making, and the theory and criticism of the visual arts.” She is collaborating with the directors, faculty and staff on curriculum development and also advising on the center’s curatorial and publishing program, which spans exhibitions, performances, symposiums, and conferences. Previously, Adusei-Poku was a visiting professor of art history of the African diaspora at The Cooper Union. A scholar, curator, and educator, she has a Ph.D., from Humboldt University in Berlin.

FIND MORE about Nana Adusei-Poku on her website

 


A curator from Zimbabwe, Tandazani Dhlakama holds an MA in art gallery and museum studies from the University of Leeds in the UK. | Courtesy Zeitz MOCAA

 
Tandazani Dhlakama, Assistant Curator | Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town, South Africa

After serving as education manager since 2017, Tandazani Dhlakama was named assistant curator at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town. Her promotion was announced July 22, in concert with news that Storm Janse van Rensburg was joining the museum as senior curator. Janse van Rensburg was previously head curator of exhibitions at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Ga. He and Dhlakama are working with Koyo Kouoh, who joined Zeitz MOCAA as executive director and chief curator in May. Dhlakama’s background includes several years at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare where she held marketing and operations and education and public programming roles.

 


An independent curator and gallerist Eva Langret has collaborated with a variety of artists including Maren Hassinger, Simone Leigh, Zina Saro-Wiwa, ruby onyinyechi amanze, Theo Eshetu and Kapwani Kiwanga, among other artists. | Photo by Deniz Guzel, Courtesy Frieze London

 
Eva Langret, Artistic Director | Frieze London

Eva Langret was named artistic director of the Frieze London art fair. Her appointment was announced Sept. 3. Previously, Langret was head of exhibitions at Tiwani Contemporary gallery in London, where she curated Maren Hassinger’s first solo show outside the United States. Previously she held positions at The Delfina Foundation in London and The Wapping Project Bankside. Eva holds an MA in art History and archaeology from SOAS London (University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies). Langret officially joined Frieze London in November.

 


Meklit Hadero has previous connections with YCBA. She served on the board of directors (2015-2019) and was an artist-in-residence in spring 2019.

 
Meklit Hadero, Chief of Program | Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco

Meklit Hadero was appointed chief of program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in San Francisco. Hadero, who describes herself as a “cultural activist,” is charged with program strategy at the contemporary art center. Her portfolio spans visual arts, performing arts, film, and civic and community engagement and includes a number of programs and initiatives designed to deepen YCBA’s relationships with artists and curators. Hadero brings broad experience to the position. She is an Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter and composer who focuses on ethio-jazz. She is also a National Geographic Explorer and TED Senior Fellow. Previously, she was co-director of the Red Poppy Art House, a neighborhood hub for artistic engagement located in San Francisco’s Mission District. In addition, Hadero has served as an artist-in-residence at New York University and Harvard University.

FIND MORE about Meklit Hadero on her website

 


A curator, writer, and editor, Cameron Shaw’s earlier work includes posts in the curatorial departments at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Conn., the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. | Photo by Matt Sayles

 
Cameron Shaw, Deputy Director and Chief Curator | California African American Museum (CAAM), Los Angeles

The California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles selected Cameron Shaw as its new deputy director and chief curator. Her appointment was announced Sept. 11 and she began work the next day. Shaw succeeds Naima Keith, who had held the post since February 2016, before departing CAAM to join the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as vice president of education and public programs in April. Shaw co-founded Pelican Bomb, a New Orleans-based contemporary art nonprofit that provided a platform for exhibitions, public programming, and arts journalism, from 2011 to 2018. She served as executive director and founding editor of its publication. Previously, Shaw was a research manager at David Zwirner Gallery in New York. She earned a B.A. in the history of art from Yale University.

“CAAM presents a powerful platform to build new scholarship and public experiences around the contributions of African Americans to the cultural life of this city, state, country, and the world. More than forty years after its founding, there remains an inarguable need to create inclusive, accessible, and dynamic spaces where all people can see black lives and experiences valued and reflected, and I’m proud to be part of that visionary legacy.”
— Cameron Shaw

 


Osei Bonsu is a British-Ghanaian curator, critic and art historian based in London and Paris. His projects explore transnational histories of art. | Photo by Matt Greenwood, Tate Photography

 
Osei Bonsu, Curator, International Art | Tate Modern, London

On Sept. 11, the Tate Modern in London announced new hires to its curatorial team covering African, Middle Eastern and South Asian modern and contemporary art. Among the appointments Osei Bonsu, was named curator, international art. He is specializing in African art and further developing the museum’s representation in the area. Previously, Bonsu was working independently with museums, galleries and private collections in Asia, Africa, and Europe. In 2017, he curated the 10th edition of Satellites and he was chair of the 2019 African Art in Venice Forum. Bonsu earned a master’s degree in the history of art from University College London. He had began working at the museum earlier in the month when the appointments were announced.

FIND MORE about Osei Bonsu on his website

 


A highly regarded arts leader who has worked directly with many contemporary artists on exhibitions, commissions, and grant support, Rashida Bumbray is an artist in her own right. A choreographer and performer, she received a 2019 United States Artists Fellowship and is an inaugural Civic Practice Artist-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. | Courtesy Open Society Foundations

 
Rashida Bumbray, Director of Culture and Art | Open Society Foundations, New York, N.Y.

On Sept. 25, the Open Society Foundations announced the appointment of Rashida Bumbray to a new post dedicated to supporting a variety of artistic practices and cultural spaces. As the inaugural director of culture and art, she oversees grants that address the needs and concerns of individual artists, arts leaders, and cultural activists. The Culture and Art budget for 2020 is $12 million. Bumbray joined the foundation in 2015, serving as senior program manager of Arts Exchange, an initiative designed to integrate arts and culture work into broader program strategies across the organization’s networks. Her previous experience includes curatorial and administrator roles at Duke Ellington School of the Arts (2014-15), Creative Time (2012–2014), The Kitchen (2006–2012), and the Studio Museum in Harlem (2001–2006).

FIND MORE about Rashida Bumbray on her website

 


Denene De Quintal appointment focusing on Native American art is significant. She is filling a role at the Detroit Institute of Art that has been vacant for nearly a decade. | Courtesy Detroit Institute of Art

 
Denene De Quintal, Assistant Curator, Native American Art | Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) named Denene De Quintal assistant curator of Native American art in its Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and Indigenous Americas. Her appointment was announced Sept. 25. De Quintal is joining the DIA after serving for two years as the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow in Native Arts at the Denver Art Museum. De Quintal earned an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology with concentrations in Native American studies and Latin American studies at Cornell University, and M.A. and Ph.D., degrees from the University of Chicago in cultural anthropology. She officially joined DIA Oct. 7.

 


Prior to joining the Chrysler Museum of Art, Kimberli Gant served as Mellon Doctoral Fellow at the Newark Museum in New Jersey and curator of exhibitions and public programs at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn. | Courtesy Chrysler Museum

 
Kimberli Gant, Co-Curator/Juror | 2020 Bermuda Biennial

On Oct. 6, the Bermuda National Gallery announced two international co-curators/jurors for the 2020 Bermuda Biennial. Kimberli Gant, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., is serving with Melissa Messina, an independent curator and curator of The Mildred Thompson Estate who curated the 2018 Bermuda Biennial. They will oversee artist selections for the exhibition. Gant joined the Chrysler Museum of Art in 2016. She holds a Ph.D., in art history from the University of Texas at Austin. The biennial is scheduled for March 6-October 2020. Established in 1994, the biennial provides an international platform for local artists. The theme for this year’s edition is inspired by a Toni Morrison quote: “Let Me Tell You Something.”

 


Adrienne Edwards was a curator-at-large at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn. (2016-18), where she organized the first solo museum exhibition of artist and jazz composer and pianist Jason Moran. The show opened spring 2018 and traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. It is currently on view at the Whitney Museum in New York City, through Jan. 5, 2020. | Photo by Whitney Brown

 
Adrienne Edwards, Co-Curator | 2021 Whitney Biennial, New York, N.Y.

The Whitney Museum of American Art chose two in-house curators to organize the next Whitney Biennial. Adrienne Edwards, curator of performance, will serve as co-curator for the 2021 Whitney Biennial, alongside David Breslin, curator and director of the collection. The museum announced the appointments on Oct. 7. The news came in the wake of many months of protests and controversy surrounding the 2019 Whitney Biennial. The criticism targeted Warren B. Kanders, the museum’s vice chair and the owner and CEO of Safariland, a defense manufacturer that sells teargas canisters. Kanders resigned from the museum’s board at the end of July. Edwards joined the Whitney museum last year. She curated the first solo museum exhibition of Jason Moran and recently organized a celebration at the museum that marked the commencement of the construction of “Day’s End,” the long-awaited public art project envisioned by David Hammons. Previously, Edwards served for eight years as curator of Performa, the New York nonprofit that describes itself as “the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art.”

 


Toccarra A. H. Thomas previously served in inaugural roles running Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, N.Y., and SPACE in Portland, Maine. | Photo by Kyleelise Thomas

 
Toccarra A. H. Thomas, Director | Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans

An artist and arts leader, Toccarra A. H. Thomas recently joined the Joan Mitchell Foundation as director of the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. Her appointment was announced Oct. 8. She officially started Oct. 14. Thomas will oversee the center’s day-to-day operations, develop public programming, and manage the artist residency program. She earned a BA in cultural anthropology from Smith College, and an MA in media studies from The New School.

 


Dwight A. McBride has also held leadership posts at Emory University, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. | Photo by Emily Looney

 
Dwight A. McBride, President | The New School, New York, N.Y.

The New School announced Dwight A. McBride would become its ninth president on Oct. 11. The appointment is historic. McBride is first black president and the first person of color to lead the institution, which includes the Parsons School of Design. A distinguished scholar, author, and academic administrator, McBride is currently serving as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University in Atlanta. He is also a professor at Emory, affiliated with the African American studies, English, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies departments. McBride has a BA in English and African American studies from Princeton University and earned masters and Ph.D., degrees in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is joining the New School in Spring 2020.

“I have always had a profound belief in the power of higher education to quite literally transform lives and throughout my career I have been a passionate and proactive advocate for creating environments that truly foster inclusive excellence.” — Dwight A. McBride

 


Ryan N. Dennis recently graduated from the Center for Curatorial Leadership’s 2019 Fellowship Program. | Courtesy Texas Biennial

 
Ryan N. Dennis, Co-Curator/Creative Director | 2020 Texas Biennial, Austin

In late October, the 2020 Texas Biennial announced its co-curators/creative directors are Ryan N. Dennis, curator and programs director at Project Row Houses (PRH) in Houston, and Evan Garza, a curator, writer, and former director of public art at Rice University. In 2012, Dennis joined PRH, where her work focuses on socially engaged practices. In 2017, she established the PRH Fellowship in collaboration with Center for Art and Social Engagement at the University of Houston’s College of the Arts. Previously, she was the traveling exhibition manager at the Museum for African Art in New York City. Dennis earned a master’s degree in arts and cultural management from Pratt Institute. Staged in Austin, the Texas Biennial will take place in fall 2020 between September and December.

 


Jessica Bell Brown contributed to the exhibition catalog “Lubaina Himid: Work From Underneath.” She also wrote a tribute to Ed Clark this month for Artforum. The abstract painter died Oct. 18 at age 93. | Photo by Texas Isaiah

 
Jessica Bell Brown, Associate Curator for Contemporary Art | Baltimore Museum of Art

On Oct. 28, the Baltimore Museum of Art announced it was hiring Jessica Bell Brown as associate curator for contemporary art. She officially started Nov. 18. A New York-based writer, curator, and art historian, Brown recently served as consulting curator at Gracie Mansion Conservancy in New York, where she organized “She Persists: A Century of Women Artists in New York, 1919-2019” (2018-19). From 2016-2017, Brown was a Museum Research Consortium Fellow in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. A doctoral candidate in the Department of Art & Architecture at Princeton University, Brown holds an M.A. in art history from Princeton University and has a bachelor’s degree in art history from Northwestern University.

 


Sandra Jackson-Dumont is the inaugural director and CEO of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which will explore visual storytelling through both fine art and popular art. | Courtesy of Rebecca Schear

 
Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Director and CEO | Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles named Sandra Jackson-Dumont director and CEO. Married co-founders George Lucas and Melody Hobson were actively involved in her selection. The appointment was announced Oct. 30. She officially joins the museum in January 2020. Jackson-Dumont had been serving as chair of education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since 2014. Previously, she was deputy director for education and public programs and adjunct curator in modern and contemporary art at the Seattle Art Museum (2006-14). The Lucas Museum is currently under construction in LA’s Exposition Park and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

 


London-born Gus Casely-Hayford is a curator, cultural historian, writer and broadcaster. | Courtesy Victoria & Albert Museum

 
Gus Casely-Hayford, Director V&A East | Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Gus Casely-Hayford is joining the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as inaugural director of V&A East. He is heading up two new venues under construction in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that will house a museum and a collections and research center. The appointment was announced Nov. 6. Casely-Hayford has been serving as director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., since February 2018. He is joining the V&A in Spring 2020. The new outposts are set to open in 2023.

WATCH Gus Casely-Hayford’s TED Talk about powerful stories that shaped Africa

 


Europe-based Sepake Angiama previously held posts at Hayward Gallery, Turner Contemporary, Manifesta 10, and documenta 14. | Courtesy Iniva

 
Sepake Angiama, Artistic Director | Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), London

On Nov. 8, Iniva (London’s Institute of International Visual Arts) announced the appointment of Sepake Angiama as artistic director. A curator and educator, Angiama is co-curator of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial (Sept. 19, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020). She earned a master’s degree in curating contemporary art from the Royal College of Art in London. In 2017/18, she was a BAK Fellow (basis voor actuele kunst) in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Angiama starts at Iniva in January 2020.

 


Earlier this month during Miami Art Week, Ashley James collaborated with Pratt Institute Fine Arts, curating an exhibition at the Untitled art fair and moderating a panel discussion that included artist Derrick Adams. | Photo by Elle Pérez, Courtesy Guggenheim Museum

 
Ashley James, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art | Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, N.Y.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City announced the appointment of Ashley James as associate curator of contemporary art on Nov. 14. (She started Nov. 12.) She is the first black curator hired at the museum in its 80-year history. Most recently, James served as an assistant curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she led the institution’s presentation of “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” She is a Ph.D., candidate in English literature, African American studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Yale University,

 


A Detroit-based artist and curator, Jova Lynn co-founded FLEX COLLECTIVE and Bulk Space Artist Residency. | Courtesy MOCAD

 
Jova Lynne, Curator | Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

Jova Lynne is the new Susanne Feld Hilberry Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). The museum made the announcement Nov. 18. Lynne has been serving as a Ford Curatorial Fellow at MOCAD. She is succeeding Larry Ossei-Mensah, who previously held the curator position. Her prior experience includes education appointments at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, N.Y. Lynne has an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BA in film/video art and education from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. She begins her new role at MOCAD Feb. 1, 2020.

FIND MORE about Jova Lynne on her website

 


Denise Murrell earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1980 and worked in finance before transitioning over the past decade to a career in art history. | Photo by John Pinderhughes, Courtesy Columbia University

 
Denise Murrell, Associate Curator for 19th- and 20th-Century Art | Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art hired Denise Murrell as curator for 19th- and 20th-Century Art, a newly created position. The appointment was first reported by the New York Times on Nov. 20. She begins in January 2020. A Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery, Murrell curated “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today” at the campus gallery and co-curated “Black models: from Géricault to Matisse,” a version of the critically acclaimed exhibition that traveled to the Musées d’Orsay in Paris. Murrell earned a Ph.D., from Columbia’s department of art history and archaeology. Her 2013 dissertation was the basis for the exhibitions and accompanying catalog. Murrell had pitched her highly praised exhibition to many museums, only to be rebuffed initially. The Met never responded to her inquiry. Her Met appointment is one of the first hires made by Max Hollein, who has served as the museum’s director for about a year-and-a-half.

“This is a moment of inflection at the Met — a reconsideration of the West that moves away from an exclusively European culture; a deeper presentation of artists of color and a greater breadth of images depicting people of color.” — Denise Murrell in the New York Times

 


A San Francisco native, Monetta White grew up in the Fillmore District, a neighborhood where African American culture and black-owned businesses thrived. She graduated from San Francisco State University. | Courtesy Museum of the African Diaspora

 
Monetta White, Executive Director | Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco

The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco named Monetta White executive director. Since August 2019, she has been serving as interim director, replacing Linda Harrison who departed a year ago to head the Newark Museum in New Jersey. White’s appointment was announced Dec. 6 and she assumed her new position immediately. She has been involved with MoAD as a patron and donor since it was established in 2005. She co-chaired the museum’s Afropolitan Ball in 2017 and 2018, and joined the board of directors in May 2019. A local business owner, White is the managing partner of The Fillmore Food Group, which includes 1300 on Fillmore at the San Francisco Airport, a restaurant she owns with her husband, chef David Lawrence. Monetta also founded Westside Cultural Connection, an event services company, and was vice president of San Francisco’s Small Business Commission.

 


Aria Dean is now in charge of Rhizome’s editorial program and will use the nonprofit’s website, print products, and other channels and platforms “to shape the conversation around born-digital art and culture and bring Rhizome’s work to new audiences.” | Courtesy Rhizome

 
Aria Dean, Editor and Curator | Rhizome, New York, N.Y.

Rhizome has appointed Aria Dean to a newly created leadership position. On Dec. 12, the art and technology nonprofit announced Dean would serve as editor and curator. She joined Rhizome in 2016 as assistant curator of net art and digital culture. Dean is an artist, curator and critic. Her writings have been published in a variety of outlets. In May, she had a solo show at the gallery Chapter NY. Titled “(meta)models or how i got my groove back,” the exhibition featured video and sculptures and explored the “ontological and phenomenological structures of blackness in Western culture.”

 


A Spelman College alum, Ashley R. Harris, has held marketing and branding roles at the Daily Beast and Ogilvy, in addition to Sotheby’s. | Courtesy Independent New York

 
Ashley R. Harris, Executive Director | Independent Art Fair, New York, N.Y.

Last week, Independent New York announced the appointment of Ashley R. Harris as its first executive director. She has been serving as marketing director at Sotheby’s since 2016. Harris begins at the Independent Art Fair in January 2020. She brings extensive experience in marketing, branding and communications to the newly created position. She is charged with “developing relationship with galleries and institutional partners worldwide.” Continuing efforts to “innovate in response to the gallery and artist marketplace” is also a priority. Elizabeth Dee, who shuttered her Harlem gallery last year, is the co-founder and CEO of the Independent Art Fair, which was established in 2010.

 


In his role at CAAM, Tyree A. Boyd-Pates organized several exhibitions including “Cross Colours: Black Fashion in the 20th Century” (2019) and “No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992” (2017). | Courtesy Autry Museum

 
Tyree A. Boyd-Pates, Associate Curator of Western History | Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles

On Dec. 16, Autry Museum of the American West announced the appointment of Tyree A. Boyd-Pates as associate curator of Western History. He joins the museum from the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles, where he had been serving as history curator and public project manager. Previously, he was a lecturer of African American Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Boyd-Pates earned an MA in African American studies from Temple University and a BA in communications/public relations with a minor in African American studies from California State University, Bakersfield. Dedicated to the inclusive history of the American West, the Autry Museum was established in 1988 and named for co-founder Gene Autry, an actor and entertainer who portrayed cowboys in numerous films. Boyd-Pates begins his new post in January 2020.

FIND MORE about Tyree A. Boyd-Pates on his website

 


Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide is a faculty member at the Dutch Art Institute’s Roaming Academy in Arnhem and thesis advisor at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. | Photo by Martha Stroo

 
Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide, Exhibitions Curator | Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide is the new exhibitions curator at the Van Abbemuseum. The museum in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, made the announcement Dec. 16. In addition to curating exhibitions, she will contribute to a variety of museum activities related research, the collection, and engagement with the public. Van der Heide previously served as deputy director at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, a non­profit art institute in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

 


From 2013 to 2017, Serubiri Moses traveled to Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe participating in various residencies, curatorial opportunities, research projects, conferences, and juries. | via SFMOMA

 
Serubiri Moses, Co-Curator Greater New York, 2020 | MoMA PS1, Long Island City, N.Y.

Independent writer and curator Serubiri Moses is one of four curators of the fifth edition of Greater New York. Scheduled for fall 2020, MoMA PS1’s survey of the city’s contemporary art scene occurs every five years. The selection team is led by PS1 Curator Ruba Katrib, and includes Moses, Inés Katzenstein, MoMA’s curator of Latin American art, and Kate Fowle, who was hired as director of PS1 over the summer. Ugandan-born, New York-based Moses recently served on the curatorial team for the 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2018). In 2014, he co-curated Kampala’s public art biennial, the second edition entitled Unmapped. Moses has published texts on a variety platforms. He holds a master’s degree in curatorial studies from Bard College. CT

 

FIND MORE U.S. museum staff diversity has largely been gauged by a demographic survey published by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2015. Earlier this year, the foundation released a new survey providing an update on how people of color are faring in the museum sector.

 

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