Baltimore Museum of Artwork Names New Director

Asma Naeem (picture by Christopher Myers, courtesy BMA)

The Baltimore Museum of Artwork (BMA) has appointed Asma Naeem as its new director. Introduced by the museum on Tuesday, January 24, her tenure will start on February 1, when she’s going to grow to be the primary individual of colour to steer the establishment. 

BMA Board of Trustees named Naeem the museum’s eleventh director after a 10-month search following Christopher Bedford’s resignation in June 2022. (Bedford now helms the San Francisco Museum of Trendy Artwork.) Naeem has labored on the Baltimore museum for 5 years, first as its chief curator and most just lately as interim co-director; beforehand, she was a curator within the prints and drawings division on the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Portrait Gallery.

The Baltimore establishment has been the topic of controversy lately. In 2020, the museum drew criticism for its plan to promote three work by Brice Marden, Clyfford Nonetheless, and Andy Warhol and use the estimated proceeds of $65 million to fund workers salaries, fairness applications, and new acquisitions. Former presidents of the Affiliation of Artwork Museum Administrators (AAMD) despatched a letter to then-board chair Clair Zamoiski Segal urging the establishment to rethink, and a bunch of former BMA trustees and different museum supporters signed an open letter in protest. Artists Adam Pendleton and Amy Sherald each resigned from the Board of Trustees throughout this era, although neither cited the deaccession plan as the rationale. The sale was ultimately halted hours earlier than two of the work by Nonetheless and Marden had been slated to go beneath the hammer at Sotheby’s (the Warhol was to be offered privately).

Regardless of the sale’s cancellation, the establishment introduced that it could proceed to pursue its “Endowment for the Future” initiative, set in movement by a $1 million lead reward from philanthropist and collector Eileen Harris Norton in February 2021 that may assist fund new acquisitions by artists of colour, amongst different tasks.

Naeem can also be ascending into her function as director lower than a yr since practically 140 employees on the BMA voted to kind a “wall-to-wall” union protecting all staff, together with retail operations, curation, and safety departments. Again in March 2022, employees demonstrated in entrance of museum steps throughout an exhibition curated by the museum’s safety guards to strain former BMA Director Christopher Bedford to signal the Metropolis of Baltimore’s union election settlement.

Salman Toor: No Unusual Love set up on the Baltimore Museum of Artwork (picture by Mitro Hood, courtesy BMA)

Over the course of her profession at BMA, Naeem curated exhibitions similar to Candice Breitz: Too Long, Didn’t Read, Salman Toor: No Ordinary Love, and the forthcoming The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century

Too Lengthy, Didn’t Learn, which ran from March 15, 2020, by November 15, 2020, displayed two multichannel video installations by Breitz, a South African-born artist, that mirror on web and celeb cultures. The Salman Toor exhibition featured the Pakistan-born artist’s reinterpretations of historic works, similar to Sir Anthony van Dyck’s “Rinaldo and Armida” (1629) that includes brown, queer figures, and is touring to different establishments such because the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis College and the Tampa Museum of Art. No Unusual Love additionally included a list with essays by writers similar to artwork critic Evan Moffitt and journal editor and novelist Hanya Yanagihara. 

The upcoming present she co-curated, The Tradition, celebrates the affect of Hip Hop tradition on up to date artwork on the 50th anniversary of the global movement’s birth.

In a press release to Hyperallergic, Naeem hinted broadly at her imaginative and prescient for the establishment. “Artwork doesn’t conform to geopolitical boundaries,” Naeem mentioned. “We’re looking for to indicate guests how interconnected cultures are and to floor Non-Western influences that permeate the historic artwork canon.”