Apr 6, 2018

After the Brooklyn Museum hired a white woman to curate its African art department, an activist group proposed starting a “decolonization commission.”

Debate is still raging a week after the Brooklyn Museum announced that a white woman, Kristen Windmuller-Luna, had been hired as the Sills Family Consulting Curator of the museum’s African art department. The announcement incited backlash on Twitter and inspired many op-eds, including one by the poet Teju Adisa-Farrar, who asked, “Why are white curators still running African art collections?” Now, the group Decolonize This Place has demanded that the museum more fully address the hiring decision by convening a commission that would explore a number of options going forward—including diversifying the curatorial staff. “No matter how one parses it, the appointment is simply not a good look in this day and age—especially on the part of a museum that prides itself on its relationships with the diverse communities of Brooklyn,” the letter reads. ARTnews, which published the letter in full, also noted that there are some who support Windmuller-Luna’s hiring. Steven Nelson, a professor of African and African American art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that the reality is the field of African art studies is dominated by white curators, and that among them, Windmuller-Luna is “richly deserving of the Brooklyn position.”