BFM: The Coolest Curator to Idolize, Thelma Golden
I heard this Design Matters interview in November and decided that Thelma Golden is my hero. She’s innovative, she’s bold, but she’s got this quiet, gentle nature that makes her seem thoughtful and genuinely kind. She’s known what she’s wanted ever since she was a little kid: to be a curator at a big time museum. And after working her way up from intern at the Met to curator at the Whitney, Golden is currently (since 2005) Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem... a small space, but a big time museum now, because of her efforts. The Studio Museum was founded in the late 60’s. It arose out of the need for a designated space for work by Black artists, which was virtually invisible at places like the Met and other prestigious museums.
“The Studio Museum now has more than 110,000 visitors a year, up 27% since Ms. Golden, assumed the director’s chair. The museum’s mission has expanded as well, broadening beyond its founding goal of promoting the work of African-American artists to also include those of African descent living elsewhere.“ (WSJ 2015)
In 2018, Golden received the J. Paul Getty Medal, for her work in advancing both the Studio Museum and the work of Black artists.
Here’s a great (& short!) video tribute to her, in which she talks about the history of the Studio Museum and her motivations as a curator there:
“I don’t think you can say ‘African American art’ without saying ‘Thelma Golden,’” says James Cuno, president and chief executive of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “You can’t say ‘contemporary art’ without saying ‘Thelma Golden.’ You can’t say ‘Harlem’ without saying ‘Thelma Golden.’ (Via LA TImes)
The Studio Museum is getting big time attention these days. To accommodate all of her goals as Director, Golden’s latest project is a redesign of the space with architect David Adaje, set to finish in 2021.
Can’t wait to make a pilgrimage.
For more on Thelma Golden:
Listen to this great Design Matters interview.
Cover pic via WSJ