- For other uses, see Thelma Golden (softball).
September 22, 1965|
|Occupation||Museum Director and Chief Curator|
Thelma Golden (born 1965 in St. Albans, Queens) is the Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City, United States. Golden joined the Museum as Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs in 2000 before succeeding Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims, the Museum’s former Director and President, in 2005. She is noted as one of the originators of the term Post-Blackness.
Early life and education
Thelma Golden grew up in Queens, New York. She had her first hands-on training as a senior in high school at the New Lincoln School, training as a curatorial apprentice at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Golden's decision to become a curator was inspired by Lowery Stokes Sims, the first African-American curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She graduated from Buckley Country Day School in 1980 and earned a B.A. in Art History and African-American Studies from Smith College in 1987. While at Smith, she worked as an intern at The Studio Museum in 1985.
Golden's first curatorial position was at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1987. She was then a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1988 to 1998. Golden was the visual arts director at the Jamaica Arts Center in Queens before she became director of the Whitney Museum's outpost in midtown Manhattan (since closed) in 1991. She organized many notable exhibitions, including the controversial 1993 Biennial, directed by Elisabeth Sussman; Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art (1994–95); Bob Thompson: A Retrospective (1998); Heart, Mind, Body, Soul: New Work from the Collection (1998); and Hindsight: Recent Work from the Permanent Collection (1999).
Known for her support and championship of emerging artists, Golden created a site-specific commissioning program for the Whitney’s branch museum at Altria (formerly Philip Morris), and she presented projects by meaningful artists: Alison Saar, Glenn Ligon, Gary Simmons (artist), Romare Bearden, Matthew McCaslin, Suzanne McClelland, Lorna Simpson, Jacob Lawrence, and Leone & MacDonald.
Since joining the Studio Museum in 2000 as deputy director for exhibitions, Golden has organized a number of groundbreaking exhibitions, including Isaac Julien: Vagabondia (2000); Martin Puryear: The Cane Project (2000); Glenn Ligon: Stranger (2001); the Freestyle Exhibition (2001); Black Romantic: The Figurative Impulse in Contemporary Art (2002); harlemworld: Metropolis as Metaphor (2004); Chris Ofili: Afro Muses (2005); Frequency (2005–06), with Christine Y. Kim; Africa Comics (2006–07); and Kori Newkirk: 1997–2007 (2007–08). In 2005 she became the Studio Museum's director and chief curator. She also works to expand and strengthen the museum’s presence in the local community and the global art world. The Studio Museum's visitorship has increased during her tenure as director, and a $122 million expansion is underway.
Golden is an active guest curator, writer, lecturer, juror, and advisor. In 2009, she presented "How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change" at the TED conference's 25th anniversary gathering in Palm Springs, California. Her talk examined how contemporary artists continue to shape dialogue about race, culture, and community. In 2008, she was a member of the advisory team of the Whitney Biennial and in 2007 acted as a juror for the UK Turner Prize. In 2004, Golden curated a retrospective of fashion designer Patrick Kelly at the Brooklyn Museum. She then co-curated the traveling exhibition Glenn Ligon: Some Changes in 2005. Known for her interviews with contemporary artists, Golden is a frequent contributor to books, catalogues, and magazines and regularly speaks at institutions around the world as well as teaching at various universities. Golden serves on the Graduate Committee at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, is on the boards of Creative Time in New York and the Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA) in London, and is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. The New York City's cultural advisory committee invited Golden to serve on their committee in 2015. In 2016, Golden became a member on the board of trustees at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
- 2003: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Moore College of Art and Design
- 2004: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Smith College
- 2008: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, San Francisco Art Institute
- 2014: Top 25 most important women in the art world by Artnet
- 2015: Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow
- 2016: Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence
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- Parker, Ian. "Golden touch; in Harlem, Thelma Golden has big plans for contemporary art." The New Yorker, 14 Jan. 2002, p. 44+. Literature Resource Center, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=LitRC&sw=w&u=usfca_gleeson&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA82524624&asid=6e5c51ad4b9455cf66d4770b62fb5ad4. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017.
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- Ng, David. "LACMA adds three trustees, strengthens entertainment industry ties". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
- Siegal, Nina (2017). "Thelma Golden" Modern Painter. ESCO Host. p. 42.
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- "25 Art World Women at the Top, From Sheikha Al-Mayassa to Yoko Ono". Artnet. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
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