THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART (PMA) announced in February 2023 the establishment of the Brind Center for African and African Diasporic Art. A year later, the museum has selected Imani Roach to lead the center. Roach joins PMA from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where she currently serves as assistant curator, Arts of Africa.

In her new role, Roach is the inaugural curatorial director of PMA’s Brind Center. Dedicated to the study, acquisition, and care of art from continental Africa, the Americas, and the wider Black diaspora, the center is designed to expand the scope and reach of PMA’s collection.

“We are excited to have Imani’s passion and expertise for the arts of Africa and its diaspora at the PMA. This marks a new chapter for us and reflects our commitment to reimagining the future of the museum,” PMA Director and CEO Sasha Suda said in a statement.


Imani Roach. | Photo by Naomieh Jovin, Courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art


A CURATOR AND EDUCATOR, Roach specializes in mid-20th century African modernism. She is also an artist and vocalist. Roach joined the Met’s Art of Africa curatorial team in 2021. Over the past three years, she has focused on research and planning for the reinstallation of the Met’s African art collection in newly renovate galleries expected to open to the public in 2025.

Born in San Francisco, Calif., Roach grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and since 2012, has been based in Philadelphia, Pa. She is an active participant in the local arts community and has developed and taught Arts of Africa courses at schools in and around the city, including the Arts of Africa at Haverford College, the University of Pennsylvania, Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University, and Moore College of Art & Design. She earned an undergraduate degree in art history from Stanford University and an M.A. in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University.

Her position at the Brind Center is all encompassing with a focus on PMA, like-minded institutions, and the field at large. According to PMA, Roach “will lead the acquisition of artworks, focus on special exhibitions and gallery installations as well as publications and symposia and promote career development in the field of African and African diasporic art. She will work closely with the PMA’s Learning and Engagement Division and with the curatorial team across the museum. Roach will also partner with institutions of similar missions regionally, nationally, and internationally.”

“The Brind Center will also be a gathering space serving to welcome and celebrate the important role of African and Afro-Diasporic Art, particularly in offering opportunities for Philadelphia’s diverse community to engage with and be inspired by this important part of our shared history.”
— Board Trustee Ira Brind

THE CENTER IS ENDOWED by Ira Brind, who was elected to PMA’s board of trustees in 2006. Brind and his late wife Myrna Brind together began collecting Asian and African and African diasporic art and donated many of the works to several museums, including PMA. In 2014, Brind and his wife Stacey Spector endowed PMA’s associate curator of South Asian Art position. Funding for the Brind Center supports Roach’s directorship, another curatorial position, and fellowship opportunities for graduate students.

“The stories we tell through art, and the diversity of our collection, matters. This newly created center, led by Imani, will offer a platform for new curatorial voices whose lived and scholarly experiences will usher in a new chapter at our museum,” Brind said in a statement. “The Brind Center will also be a gathering space serving to welcome and celebrate the important role of African and Afro-Diasporic Art, particularly in offering opportunities for Philadelphia’s diverse community to engage with and be inspired by this important part of our shared history. I couldn’t be happier to play a role in supporting this mission.”

The collection of PMA includes more than 240,000 works of art (more than 170,000 of which can be seen online), according to the museum’s website. About 250 Black artists are represented in the collection with approximately 1,400 objects, which is less than 1 percent of the museum’s holdings (about .60 percent).

“I am humbled to have been entrusted with building a home for African and Afro-Diasporic art at the PMA and energized by the work ahead,” Roach said in a statement. “This is a transformative moment for the institution and its relationship to the city of Philadelphia. As a longtime Philly cultural worker, I look forward to contributing to the city’s profound legacy of nurturing and celebrating the ties between Africans on the continent and around the world.” CT


FIND MORE about Imani Roach on Instagram

FIND MORE about in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including featured African American art and works by Black artist currently on view


Published a decade ago, “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art” documents a collection exhibition featuring 150 works by 100 artists. “Stephen Burks: Shelter in Place” was published on the occasion of a recent exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


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