Thelma Golden has served as Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem since 2005. The Studio Museum is the institution where she began her career in 1987, prior to a decade at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She returned in 2000 to be the Studio Museum’s Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs.
While at the Studio Museum, she has organized exhibitions including Chris Ofili: Afro Muses 1995-2005; Black Romantic: The Figurative Impulse in Contemporary Art; Freestyle; Frequency; Glenn Ligon: Stranger; and Gordon Parks: A Harlem Family 1967. During her tenure as Director, the Studio Museum has welcomed more than forty-five outstanding artists to its signature Artist-in-Residence program, expanded its collection to nearly two thousand works, significantly strengthened participation in the education and public programs while increasing their number, raised annual visitorship and gained a growing reputation as a site where diverse audiences exchange ideas about art and society. In July this year, the Studio Museum announced plans to construct a new building by architect David Adjaye as the first home designed expressly for its program.
During her period at the Whitney Museum, from 1988 through 1998, Thelma Golden was a member of the curatorial team for the 1993 Biennial, organized numerous exhibitions including 1994’s Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in American Art and served as Director of the Whitney Museum at Phillip Morris. From 1998 until 2000, Thelma Golden served as the Special Projects Curator for the contemporary art collectors and philanthropists Peter Norton and Eileen Harris Norton.
Ms. Golden holds a B.A. in Art History and African American Studies from Smith College and honorary doctorates from the City College of New York, San Francisco Art Institute, Smith College and Moore College of Art and Design. She was awarded a Barnard Medal of Distinction from Barnard College in 2010. Golden serves as a member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a position she was appointed to by President Barack Obama in 2010, and in 2015 joined the Barack Obama Foundation’s Board of Directors. She also serves as the 2015–16 Chair of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group and on the Professional Fine Arts Committee of the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. Ms. Golden was named a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute in 2008. She is active as a lecturer and panelist, speaking about contemporary art and culture at national and international institutions, and has held visiting faculty positions at colleges and universities including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and Bard. Golden also served continuously on the graduate committee at CCS Bard from 1994 until 2008.
Thelma Golden was born in Queens, New York, and currently resides in Harlem.