People Aren't Thrilled About the Brooklyn Museum's Decision to Hire a White Person as Curator of African Art

"People from the African Diaspora are frustrated with white people being gatekeepers of our narrative."

The Brooklyn Museum has come under fire after news spread earlier this week of its appointment of a white curator for African art.

Though it was initially believed that the museum had hired two white curators for their African art department, in a press release from earlier this month, the museum announced that it had brought on Kristen Windmuller-Luna as the Sills Family Consulting Curator of African art department and Drew Sawyer as the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator of Photography—not of "African" photography as many had thought. The news spread after it was reported by the BK Reader on Monday.

As the new curator of the museum's African art department, Windmuller-Luna will "assess and rethink the Brooklyn Museum's extensive holdings of African art, which is comprised of more than 6,000 objects, and organize an innovative, freshly conceived temporary installation," stated the press release.

The news of her appointment did not sit well with many online who expressed frustration with the art world's history of racism and elitism, and who believe the position should have gone to someone of African descent. To many, the museum's decision highlights the discriminatory hiring processes which take opportunities away from qualified black people and—in cases like these—allow white people to maintain control over black narratives and culture.

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Creation as Ritual: Performing Disguise at the Brooklyn Museum

Join us for "Creation as Ritual: Performing Disguise," the closing celebration for Brooklyn Museum’s iconic exhibition "Disguise"

This Saturday the Brooklyn Museum’s iconic exhibition “Disguise: Masks and Global African Art” is coming to a close. Join us for a day of performances, talks, workshops and more at their closing celebration entitled “ Creation as Ritual: Performing Disguise. ”

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8 African Art Events You Need To See In NYC This May

Okayafrica's May 2016 guide to art in New York City.

Photography by Atong Atem on view at Nataal’s New African Photography exhibition at Red Hook Labs

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Arts + Culture

The Brooklyn Museum Is Rethinking The Concept Of "African Masks"

The Brooklyn Museum's 'Disguise: Masks and Global African Art' exhibit challenges the concept of the "African mask."

Zina Saro-Wiwa (British/Nigerian, born 1976). The Invisible Man, 2015. Pigmented inkjet print, 28 ¾ x 44 in. (73 x 111.8 cm). Seattle Art Museum, Commission, 2015. Courtesy of the artist. © Zina Saro-Wiwa
The Brooklyn Museum’s new show wants to challenge the concept of the “African mask” and explore the meaning of masquerade in the 21st century.

The Disguise: Masks and Global African Art exhibit, which first ran last summer at the Seattle Art Museum, will connect the work of 25 artists from across Africa and the Diaspora who have reinterpreted the traditional disguise. Together, their art explores themes of "race, women’s agency, queerness, the exoticization and eroticization of the 'other,' governmental corruption and the limits of empathetic understanding."

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