BLACK CURATORS AND ARTS LEADERS took on key roles at a variety of museums and arts institutions in the second half of 2022. Sean Decatur will be the next president of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), a world-renowned New York institution that welcomes about 5 million visitors a year. Announced early this month, the appointment was big news in the city and in the international museum sector. A biophysical chemist, Decatur has been serving as president of Kenyon College since 2013. When he officially joins AMNH in April, he will be the first Black person to lead the museum since its founding in 1869.

In addition, Gaëtane Verna recently took the helm of the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University in Columbus. In San Francisco, Key Jo Lee has been named chief of curatorial affairs and public programs at the Museum of the African Diaspora. In London, Emefa Cole joined the Victoria & Albert Museum in the newly created position of curator of jewelry for the diaspora. Meanwhile, Stacey Shelnut-Henrick is joining the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., as a deputy director.


Clockwise, from left, Eola Lewis Dance, Courtesy Black Lunch Table; Key Jo Lee, Photo by Amber Ford; Sean Decatur, Courtesy Kenyon College; Tsione Wolde-Michael, Courtesy PCAH; and Gaëtane Verna, Photo by Tyrell Gough


In 2016, Culture Type began reporting annually on new appointments of Black curators and arts leaders, in order to assess representation in museums, art museums in particular. Museum leaders, curators, conservators, and educators shape the management and intellectual direction of institutions and, by extension, determine the art, artists, and programming experienced by visitors.

This year, the list of new appointments is biannual, divided into two parts. This is the second installment, covering announcements made primarily from July through December. (Published this summer, the first installment reviewed appointments occurring in the first half of 2022, from January through June.)

In addition to museums, the roundup notes appointments at key nonprofits and publicly funded organizations, including foundations, scholarly institutions, and government agencies that support artists and participate in the larger art ecosystem.

For example, Eola Lewis Dance assumed leadership of Black Lunch Table as executive director and Aay Preston-Myint was tapped to take over as executive director of SF Camerawork. In Washington, D.C., Tsione Wolde-Michael accepted a historic appointment as executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. She is the youngest and first Black person to hold the position.

The following Culture Type list of new curatorial and arts leadership appointments concentrates on U.S. institutions and a selection of international hires (in chronological order according to announcement dates).

This second installment of 2022 appointments features 27 new hires and promotions, markedly fewer than the first half of the year (47). However, combined, the two lists cite more than 70 appointments in 2022, more than any of the previous annual lists. The list below is not comprehensive, but it is representative:


Kara Olidge. | Courtesy Getty Research Institute

Kara Olidge, Associate Director for Collections and Discovery. | Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Calif.

Kara Olidge joined the Getty Research Institute (GRI) in Los Angeles as associate director for collections and discovery this summer. GRI states she is responsible for “the largest art history library in the nation—and archival collections of hundreds of thousands of photographs, not to mention dealer records, art prints, artist notebooks, and so much more.” Olidge served for more than seven years as executive director of the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University in New Orleans, La. Previously, she was deputy director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem (2012-14). Her new appointment was announced on May 2 and she started at the Getty in June.

In her new associate director role at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, Kara Olidge oversees the largest art history library in the nation.

Lanisa Kitchiner. | Courtesy Toledo Museum of Art

Lanisa Kitchiner, Consulting Curator of African Art. | Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio

The Toledo Museum of Art named Lanisa Kitchiner consulting curator of African art. The appointment was announced June 28. Since 2020, Kitchiner has served as chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress. Previously, she was director of education and scholarly initiatives at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. She is also a consulting curator on the exhibition “Deconstructing Power: W.E.B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair,” currently on view at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City through May 29, 2023.


Jacqueline Stewart. | Photo Courtesy Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Jacqueline Stewart, Director and President. | Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles, Calif.

Jacqueline Stewart was promoted to director and president of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The news was announced July 6. She assumed the role July 18. Since January 2021, Stewart has been serving as chief artistic and programming officer of the Los Angeles museum, which opened to the public in September 2021. A scholar, curator, archivist, and public educator, Stewart is a professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago.


Denise Murrell. | Photo courtesy The Met

Denise Murrell, Curator-At-Large | Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y.

On July 7, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced Denise Murrell would inaugurate a newly created curator-at-large position, which is endowed by Trustee Merryl H. Tisch and her husband, James S. Tisch. Murrell had been serving as associate curator of 19th- and 20th-century art at the Met since 2020. Previously, she organized “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today” (2018-19) at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery; authored the accompanying exhibition catalog; and co-curated a version of the show at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.


Eola Lewis Dance. | Courtesy Black Lunch Table

Eola Lewis Dance, Executive Director. | Black Lunch Table, Chicago, Ill.

Black Lunch Table hosts round tables among artists, preserves the discussions in an online oral history archive, and leads a Wikimedia project focused on adding overlooked Black artists and curators to the crowd-sourced encyclopedia. After a nationwide search, Black Lunch Table (BLT) named Eola Lewis Dance executive director. The July 11 announcement marked a new chapter in the nonprofit’s growth and leadership, with BLT co-founders and former co-directors Heather Hart and jina valentine transitioning their participation to the board of directors. A public historian and veteran of the National Park Service, Dance has been working across art, history, culture, and preservation for more than two decades. She most recently served as superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Va. Previously, Dance was a park historian at Jamestown/Yorktown in Williamsburg, Va., and a Northeast program manager with the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. She started at Black Lunch table on Oct. 8.


Pamela Edmonds. | Courtesy McMaster University

Pamela Edmonds, Director and Curator. | Dalhousie University Arts Gallery, Nova Scotia, Canada

On July 25, Pamela Edmonds was named director and curator of Dalhousie University Arts Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The appointment is particularly meaningful as Edmonds’s parents are from Nova Scotia, she grew up in the region, and she began her career as a gallery assistant at the museum two decades ago in 1998. Previously, Edmonds served as senior curator at McMaster Museum of Art at McMaster University in Ontario. She began her new role on Aug. 22.


Emefa Cole. | Courtesy V&A Museum and Emefa Cole

Emefa Cole, Curator of Jewelry for the Diaspora. | Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK

An experimental jewelry artist and designer-maker, Emefa Cole joined the Victoria & Albert Museum in the newly created position of curator of jewelry for the diaspora. The two-year appointment began Aug. 15. Ghana-born, London-based Cole makes bold, sculptural jewelry inspired by Earth’s geological processes. Her academic training in silversmithing and jewelry design is enhanced by an apprenticeship she undertook in early 2020 with Nana Dwumfour, the official goldsmith of the king of the Ashanti people in Ghana. Cole and her practice came to the attention of one of the largest decorative arts museums in the world after a V&A curator of jewelry was drawn to her work at a London craft fair. The encounter led to the museum acquiring one of her rings for its collection and her new position.

Emefa Cole’s new role is “one of four curatorial positions created by the museum in recent years to grow its African and African diaspora collections.”

Betty Julian. | Courtesy McMaster Museum of Art

Betty Julian, Adjunct Senior Curator. | McMaster Museum of Art, Ontario, Canada

Betty Julian was named adjunct senior curator at McMaster Museum of Art at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on Aug. 17. Toronto-based Julian is an independent curator of contemporary art, an educator, and a consultant. She brings three decades of experience with a variety of Canadian arts institutions, including Prefix ICA, where she has recently served as adjunct curator (2019-2021) and Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University (2001-15) where she was on faculty in the photography program. Her new appointment is effective Sept. 1, 2022-Sept. 1, 2024.


Joffrey Black. | Courtesy Otis College of Art and Design

Joffery Black, Chair, Game Design. | Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, Calif.

Joffery Black joined Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles as chair of the new Game Design program. The appointment was announced Aug. 17. He officially started on Aug. 8. Black is a military veteran and veteran of the game design industry. He has worked as a modeler, texture artist, lighter, and illustrator in games, feature development, animation, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) for firms including Heavy Iron Studio and Spaces, a VR startup acquired by Apple in 2020.


Gaëtane Verna. | Photo by Tyrell Gough

Gaëtane Verna, Executive Director. | Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio

Art historian and administrator Gaëtane Verna was named executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 24. Verna has been serving as director and artistic director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto since 2012. She officially joined the Wex on Nov. 15.


María Elena Ortiz. | Photo by Eve Bishop, Courtesy Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

María Elena Ortiz, Curator. | Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Forth Worth, Texas

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth announced a trio of new curatorial appointments on Sept. 1, including María Elena Ortiz, who began serving as curator on Aug. 1. Ortiz joined the Texas museum from the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), where she also held the role of curator. Over the course of her tenure at PAMM, which began in 2013, she organized many projects and exhibitions, including the Caribbean Cultural Institute (CCI)—a curatorial platform focused Caribbean art.


Jennifer Scott. | Courtesy National Urban League

Jennifer Scott, Executive Director. | Urban Civil Rights Museum, New York, N.Y.

On Sept. 6, the National Urban League announced the appointment of Jennifer Scott as founding executive director of the forthcoming Urban Civil Rights Museum in New York City. Expected to open in late 2024 or early 2025, the museum is touted as the first to focus on the history of civil rights in the U.S. North. An anthropologist, curator, and public historian, Scott previously served as senior vice president of exhibitions and programs at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Mich. She also held senior positions at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago and Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Scott has taught at the New School for two decades. She took on her new role with the Urban League museum in August.


Paul A. Rogers. | Courtesy Phoenix Art Museum

Paul A. Rogers, Director of Education and Engagement. | Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Ariz.

Paul A. Rogers joined the Phoenix Art Museum as Gerry Grout Director of Education and Engagement. The news was announced Sept. 6. His appointment was effective Oct. 3. Rogers previously served as curator of public programs and education at the Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College in Florida. He has also worked at the International Center of Photography in New York and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.


From left, Rhizome Co-Executive Directors Makayla Bailey and Michael Connor. | Photo by Christine Rivera

Makayla Bailey, Co-Director. | Rhizome, New York, N.Y.

Makayla Bailey was promoted from development director to co-director of Rhizome, the nonprofit digital art organization housed at the New Museum in New York. The appointment was announced Sept. 8. She shares the leadership role with Michael Connor, who was elevated from artistic director of Rhizome. A curator and writer, Bailey first joined Rhizome in December 2021. Previously, she served as a curatorial fellow at the Museum of Modern Art and also at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Earlier, Bailey was a program coordinator and curatorial assistant the LAXART in Los Angeles.


Catherine Surratt. | Courtesy Speed Art Museum

Catherine Surratt, Chief Operating and Business Officer. | Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Ky.

On Sept. 28, the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., announced the appointment of Catherine Surratt as chief operating and business officer. She joined the Speed from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., where she served as director of operations and guest services. Surratt previously worked for 14 years at the Cleveland Museum of Art, rising to director of auxiliary services. She started at the Speed on Sept. 12, prior to the public announcement.


Sandrine Colard. | via Rutgers University

Sandrine Colard, Curator-At-Large. | KANAL-Centre Pompidou, Brussels, Belgium

Sandrine Colard was named curator-at-large at the forthcoming KANAL-Centre Pompidou in Brussels. The news was announced Oct. 5. A Belgian-Congolese curator, art historian, and scholar of African photography, her practice focuses on transnational histories of art, postcolonial studies, and modern and contemporary African arts. In 2019, Colard served as artistic director of the 6th edition of the Lubumbashi Biennale in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An assistant professor of art history at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., she splits her time between New York and Brussels. KANAL-Centre Pompidou is building up its curatorial team and Colard’s appointment was announced along with three other new hires. Currently under construction, the museum is expected to open in 2024.


Key Jo Lee. | Photo by Amber Ford

Key Jo Lee, Chief of Curatorial Affairs and Public Programs. | Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, Calif.

On Oct. 28, the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco appointed Key Jo Lee chief of curatorial affairs and public programs, a newly created position. Lee is currently serving as associate curator of American Art at Cleveland Museum of Art. She starts at MoAD in January 2023.


Kenyon Adams. | Courtesy Blanton Museum of Art

Kenyon Adams, Director of Public Programs. | Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas

The Blanton Museum of Art at University of Texas at Austin announced the appointment of Kenyon Adams as director of public programs on Nov. 9. Adams previously worked for six years at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Conn., where he inaugurated and directed arts initiatives. He has an eclectic background and a broad range of experience. A singer, songwriter, and blues harmonica player, Adams is a resident artist at Texas Performing Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.


From left, Rita Ouédraogo. | Photo by Anne Lakeman; Azu Nwagbogu. | Photo by Paul Odigie

Rita Ouédraogo and Azu Nwagbogu, Co-Curators. | Buro Stedelijk, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Independent curators Rita Ouédraogo and Azu Nwagbogu will lead Buro Stedelijk. The news was announced Nov. 30. A new experimental, multidisciplinary space for emerging artists and designers, Buro Stedelijk was launched by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in collaboration with de Rijksakademie, an international residency program, and De Ateliers, an artist-led post-academic training program, both in Amsterdam. Amsterdam-based Ouédraogo is a curator, programmer, writer and researcher. She previously served as curator and program coordinator at Framer Framed in Amsterdam. A highly regarded curator with an international platform, Nwagbogu is founder and director of the African Artists’ Foundation in Lagos and the annual LagosPhoto Festival. From 2018-19, he served as director of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in Cape Town, South Africa (2018-19). Both curators officially started at Buro Stedelijk on Dec. 1. Programming is expected to get underway in early 2023.


Sean Decatur. | Courtesy Kenyon College

Sean Decatur, President. | American Museum of Natural History, New York, N.Y.

On Dec. 6, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City announced Sean Decatur, 54, will be its next president. A biophysicist, Decatur has been president of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, for nearly a decade. He previously served as dean of arts and sciences at Oberlin College, about 70 miles away. He will be the first Black person to lead AMNH, where major changes are afoot. In February, the museum will open a new $431 million science center. Decatur takes the helm on April 3.

“There is a lot that translates from higher education to the cultural world, but there are also going to be a lot of new things to learn, both about this type of institution and about the museum in particular… I’m excited to get started.” — Sean Decatur (New York Times)

Jennifer McCary. | Photo by Craig Bell, Photography Director, Bowling Green State University

Jennifer McCary, Chief People and Culture Officer. | Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio

The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) named Jennifer McCary as its first chief people and culture officer. The appointment was announced on Dec. 6. Working with the museum’s leadership team and board of trustees, she is expected to “expand and operationalize existing diversity and inclusion strategies and promote a culture of performance and accountability.” McCary is joining TMA from Bowling Green State University, where she serves as chief diversity and belonging officer. She officially starts in her new role in January.


TK Smith. | Photo by Zorn B. Taylor

TK Smith, Assistant Curator, Art of the African Diaspora. | Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pa.

On Dec. 12, the Barnes Foundation announced the appointment of TK Smith as Assistant Curator: Art of the African Diaspora. Smith is a Philadelphia-based curator, writer, and cultural historian. As a curator, his recent exhibitions include “Roland Ayers: Calligraphy of Dreams” at the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia (2021); “Virtual Remains,” the 2021 Atlanta Biennial at Atlanta Contemporary (co-curator); and “Zipporah Camille Thompson: Looming Chaos” at the Zuckerman Museum of Art in Kennesaw, Ga. (2020). Smith received a 2021 Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and he is the 2022–23 Monument Lab writer-in-residence. A visiting lecturer at Cornell University, he has also lectured at arts institutions, led museum workshops, and taught classes at the Barnes Foundation, including a recent course on Isaac Julien on the occasion of the British artist’s exhibition “Isaac Julien: Once Again…(Statues Never Die).” Smith officially started at the Barnes on Nov. 14.


Lee Bynum, 2020. | Photo by Damian Norfleet

Lee Bynum, Chief Education Officer. | Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, N.Y.

In New York City, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts tapped Lee Bynum to lead its education work. His appointment as chief education officer was announced Dec. 12. Bynum previously served as vice president of impact at the Minnesota Opera, after nearly a decade at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He officially joins Lincoln Center on Feb. 1, 2023.


Tsione Wolde-Michael. | Photo Courtesy President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

Tsione Wolde-Michael, Executive Director. | President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Washington, D.C.

After a five-year hiatus, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) was reinstated under a new executive order issued by President Biden in September. Subsequently, the advisory committee announced a new leader on Dec. 15, naming Tsione Wolde-Michael executive director. A public historian and curator, she is the youngest individual and first Black person to be named executive director of PCAH. Previously, Wolde-Michael served as founding director of the Center for Restorative History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She officially started with the President’s committee on Nov. 21. In the coming weeks, Biden is expected to populate the committee with 25 non-government members.

A public historian and curator, Tsione Wolde-Michael is the youngest individual and first Black person to be named executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Stacey Shelnut-Henrick, Deputy Director, Public Engagement and Learning. | Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va.

On Dec. 15, the Chrysler Museum of Art announced a new member of its senior leadership team. Stacey Shelnut-Henrick is joining the Norfolk, Va., museum as deputy director for public engagement and learning. In addition to being a part of the key team that charts the direction of the museum, she will be responsible for the museum’s education department, docent program, public programming, and community-based initiatives. Her background includes more than 30 years of museum experience, most recently as director of education at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Calif. Shelnut-Henrick begins her new role at the Chrysler Museum of Art in January 2023.


Aay Preston-Myint. | Photo by Ryan Edmund Thiel

Aay Preston-Myint, Executive Director. | SF Camerawork, San Francisco, Calif.

Aay Preston-Myint was named executive director of SF Camerawork on Dec. 16. Dedicated to photography, the San Francisco nonprofit supports artists through funding and exhibition opportunities and serves the public with a variety of programming, including lectures, panel discussions, and curator-led museum and gallery tours. Preston-Myint has been serving as senior manager of public programs and fellowships at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, Calif. They are also an adjunct professor of curatorial practice at California College of the Arts. Preston-Myint joins SF Camerawork on Jan. 1, 2023. CT


EXPLORE MORE New appointments from the first half of 2022

EXPLORE MORE Culture Type has previously reported on annual curatorial and arts leader appointments, dating from 2016


FIND MORE In November, the Mellon Foundation released its third survey of North American art museum staff demographics. “Though progress remains slow and uneven, the demographics of museum employees across the country are becoming more reflective of the diverse communities their organizations serve,” Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander said. (Summary)

FIND MORE Also in November, the Art Fund in the UK published “It’s about handing over power,” a report examining curatorial staff diversity in the UK arts and heritage sector, from 1998 to 2021 (Summary)


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