Thelma Golden, the Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, has been named as the 2016 recipient of the annual Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence. The honor is awarded by the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard).
The $25,000 prize is given in recognition of leading curator who has made a lasting, remarkable contribution to exhibition-making.
Golden, a graduate of Smith College, kicked off her career at the Studio Museum in 1987. From 1988 to 1999, she worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art as as part of the curatorial team. In 2000, she returned to the Studio Museum to serve as Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs. She’s served in her current position since 2005.
Exhibitions organized by Golden include “Chris Ofili: Afro Muses 1995-2005” and “Black Romantic: The Figurative Impulse in Contemporary Art.” During her tenure, the Studio Museum’s collection has grown to nearly 2000 works, annual visitors have increased, and more than forty-five artists have participated in their Artist-in-Residence program.
In 2010, Golden became a member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House — a position she was appointed to by President Obama. Last year she joined the Barack Obama Foundation’s Board of Directors.
“Through her timely exhibitions, critical thinking, and eloquent, intelligent advocacy, Thelma Golden has demonstrated that curating is of crucial importance, raising issues and developing ideas that are central to our time,” said Tom Eccles, executive director of CCS Bard.
Golden will receive the award April 6 at a gala celebration.
You can check out Golden giving a TED Talk about how art gives shape to cultural change below.