The Guggenheim Museum in New York City has officially hired the first full-time Black curator in its history, Ashley James.
James will occupy the position of associate curator of contemporary art at the notable museum, which has been around since 1959.
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Art News detailed James began her position at the Guggenheim in the past week. Previously, she was the assistant curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. During her tenure, she led the Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power exhibition.
“Ashley is a curator who has demonstrated incisive and intersectional thinking about contemporary artistic practice,” Nancy Spector, the Guggenheim’s artistic director and chief curator, said in a statement. “Her work complements the Guggenheim’s mission to present the art of today, which we understand as a deep and expansive view of art history.”
The New York Times said James served as Mellon Curatorial Fellow in the Museum of Modern Art’s drawings and prints department, focusing on artists Adrian Piper and Charles White. She also previously worked at the Studio Museum in Harlem and Yale University Art Gallery. She will receive a Ph.D. from Yale in English Literature, African-American Studies and women’s gender and sexuality studies this coming spring.
“I am eager to begin work with my colleagues to develop new research, explore new ideas for exhibitions, programs and publications and continue to expand and shape such a vital collection,” James said in a statement.
The hire of James follows an art show curated by Chaédria LaBouvier, which made her the first Black woman to curate a solo exhibition in the history of the Guggenheim. Before the solo exhibition, Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor contributed to a group exhibition of African photography in 1996.