The Guggenheim Museum in New York announced today, January 14, that it has named Naomi Beckwith as its deputy director and chief curator. In the role, Beckwith will replace long-time Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector, who resigned in October of last year amid accusations of racism, sexism, and other toxic practices against the museum’s top leadership.
Beckwith joins the Guggenheim after working in various curatorial posts at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, most recently as a senior curator. During her 10-year tenure at the MCA, she curated and co-curated exhibitions like Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen (2018), The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now (2015), and Homebodies (2013), among others. Prior to that, she worked as an associate curator at New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem, where she organized exhibitions including Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Any Number of Preoccupations (2011) and 30 Seconds off an Inch (2009–10).
In her new role at the Guggenheim, Beckwith will oversee collections, exhibitions, publications, curatorial programs, and archives. As a high-ranking member of the museum’s executive leadership, she will participate in shaping the institution’s strategies and vision. When Beckwith enters the new position in early June, she will be the first Black woman in the role.
In a statement, Beckwith said: “One cannot overstate the iconicity and consequence of the Guggenheim Museum — yet, refusing to rest on its laurels, it readily presents projects that disrupt art history’s mythologies.”
“I’m excited to join the Guggenheim and its passionate team at a pivotal moment,” she added. “I look forward to merging our shared goals of expanding the story of art, and also working to shape a new reality for arts and culture.”
Beckwith’s appointment comes months after a group of current and former workers known as A Better Guggenheim called for the removal of the museum’s top three executives: Spector, Director Richard Armstrong, and Senior Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Duggal.
Last summer, the group released a letter to the board demanding concrete steps to “dismantle the systemic racism” at the museum. The letter centered on the experience of Chaédria LaBouvier, who curated the 2019 exhibition Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story. LaBouvier has accused Spector of excluding her from key aspects of the exhibition planning and taking credit for her work, calling it “the most racist professional experience of my life” in a tweet.
Welcoming Beckwith into the position, director Richard Armstrong said in a statement: “Her expertise will be invaluable in advancing and amplifying an inclusive range of perspectives within the Guggenheim collection and culture. We look forward to working with her to develop avenues for new research and programming, and to create powerful and meaningful ways to deepen engagement with modern and contemporary art.”
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Vivan Sundaram, Veteran Indian Contemporary Artist, Dies at 79
Sundaram is celebrated for his multidisciplinary studio practice steeped in activism and political consciousness.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
What’s Iconoclastic About a Blackface Madonna?
Artist Tony Rave’s work comes to remind us that piety is not strictly White.
The Most Stirring Press Photographs of 2022
Photographs captured war-torn Ukraine, the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, and an Iranian woman defying the mandatory hijab law.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
NY Governor’s Proposed Budget Slashes Pandemic-Era Arts Funds
The cuts to the New York State Council on the Arts budget are attributed to the expiration of pandemic relief programs, but advocates say arts organizations need more support.
MoMA Apologizes for Kicking Out Black Artist From Installation
Museum security asked Heather Agyepong to leave the installation Black Power Naps, meant as a safe space for Black people, after a White visitor called her “aggressive.”
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
New York’s BIPOC-Led Arts Orgs Are Grossly Underfunded
Proposed cuts to arts funding across the state would hit entities of color the hardest.
New Directors/New Films Festival Takes an Experimental Turn
A host of documentaries exemplify ND/NF’s unconventional programming philosophy.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Memories So Fair and Bright
Kimetha Vanderveen’s paintings are about the interaction of materiality and light, the bond between the palpable and ephemeral world in which we live.
Artists Contemplate Sovereignty in Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Art Institute’s 2024 International Thematic Residency focuses on what sovereignty means for artists from across the world.