Brooklyn Museum Picks White Woman to Curate African Art

Bobo. Mask (Nyanga), early 19th century. Wood, metal, height: 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum has come under heavy fire from members of the black community for picking a white woman to be the curator of the museum’s extensive collection of African artworks.

Last week the museum chose Kristen Windmuller-Luna, a 31-year-old professor of art history and archeology at Columbia University, former educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and who holds a PhD in African art history from Princeton University. At the Met she was “responsible for adult and college gallery tours in the African galleries.”

Despite her impeccable qualification, being white was a definite problem for many in the black community who openly wondered why a person of color was not chosen for the task.

Philadelphia journalist Ernest Owens tweeted: “Seriously, @brooklynmuseum? There goes the neighborhood for good.”

“People from the African Diaspora are frustrated with white people being gatekeepers of our narrative,” posted Kimberly Seldon on Twitter.

The Brooklyn Museum disagreed with the complaints.

“Kristen is the perfect choice to build upon the Brooklyn Museum’s track record as an innovator in the collection and exhibition of the arts of Africa,” said Jennifer Chi, the museum’s chief curator.

The museum asserts that the institution is totally “committed to equity” but refused to explain or discuss its hiring process.

Finally, after several days of negative media on the subject the museum tweeted back:

“We have been listening closely to the debate about our recent appointments to our curatorial team. We’re listening, and we hear you. As we think about ways to engage in this conversation with the care it deserves, we want to assure you that you can count on us, as ever, to continue working deeply on equity within our institution and beyond.”

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James

James

James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)gowanuslounge.com.