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Wednesday, November 18, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Judith Pineiro
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The Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) & AAMC Foundation are privileged to announce Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation as the Keynote Speaker for the 2016 Conference & Meeting “AAMC @ 15: Moving Forward” taking place in Houston, Texas, May 7 – 10, 2016.  In addition, we are pleased to share a compelling list of conference sessions

“Darren Walker will be an exceptional keynote speaker for our Conference as he so clearly articulates issues of great importance to our organization, including encouraging diversity among museum curators and increasing awareness of using multiple approaches to interest the public in art,” said Helen C. Evans, Mary & Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and AAMC & AAMC Foundation President, “The recent letter from the Foundation, Inequality, Capitalism, and Philanthropy: Toward a New Gospel of Wealth, was powerful and impactful. In particular the statement ‘making connections and modeling the kind of equality we hope to achieve by listening, and learning, and lifting others up’ resonates with AAMC & AAMC Foundation members.”

“I am honored and delighted to join the dedicated ranks of Art Museum Curators and to continue a dialogue on the role arts and culture must play in achieving social justice,” said Darren Walker. “I am a fervent believer in the transformational, uplifting power of artistic expression and I look forward to the opportunity to speak with such an accomplished group.”

The sessions for the 2016 Conference include Lights in the Dark: Innovative Strategies for Film and Video Exhibitions, organized and moderated by Michael Wellen, Assistant Curator of Latin American and Latino Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston; When All Art Is Contemporary: The Institutional Push for Relevance, organized and moderated by Anne Leonard, Curator and Associate Director of Academic Initiatives, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; Exhibiting Controversy, Promoting Debate, organized and moderated by Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University; and It’s Complicated: The Curator-Patron Relationship, organized and moderated by Al Miner, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Under the directive of the AAMC & AAMC Foundation’s Strategic Plan, and to support efforts to disseminate information that could serve to diversify the field, the Diversity Task Force and Executive Director have organized Diversifying the Curatorial Profession: How the Internship/Fellowship Track Can Be Our Essential Path Toward Change, which will be moderated by the Diversity Task Force co-chair, Jen Mergel, Robert L. Beal, Enid L. Beal and Bruce A. Beal Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The Conference sessions will be held at the Asia Society Texas Center and Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH).  Additional venues and hosts include Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens, MFAH; Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; DiverseWorks; The Menil Collection; Project Row Houses; Rice University Art Gallery; Rienzi, MFAH; and University Museum at Texas Southern University.

Registration for the Conference & Meeting will open in February 2016.


About the Conference
The Conference “AAMC @ 15: Moving Forward”, #aamc15yr, celebrates 15 years of AAMC, and is scheduled for May 7 – 10, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  We anticipate welcoming nearly 350 curators at all stages of their careers, with panel topics encompassing many relevant subjects. Our Conference is the only one where art curators from every discipline and type of institution meet to discuss issues facing the profession.  The multi-day program includes a keynote speaker (TBA), President’s welcome, networking opportunities, workshops, panel discussions, receptions, award ceremony, tours of host city cultural institutions, and a full membership meeting.

For more information about the event and sponsorship of it, please contact AAMC at


About Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation and Keynote Speaker
Darren Walker is the 10th president of the Ford Foundation, but his connection to the institution and its mission—as a beneficiary, grantee, and grant maker—has spanned his entire life. 

As a child, Darren was a member of Head Start’s inaugural class in 1965, before attending Goose Creek, Texas, public schools. At the University of Texas, Pell Grants and scholarships helped finance his college and law school education. Both programs were Ford Foundation-funded pilot initiatives.

After a 10-year career in corporate law and international finance at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and UBS, Darren served for seven years as chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, Harlem’s largest community development organization and a Ford Foundation grantee. 

At the Abyssinian Development Corporation, he led efforts to develop over 1,000 units of housing for low and moderate-income families, was involved in two of Harlem’s largest privately financed commercial projects in 30 years, and oversaw the development of the first public school built in New York City by a community organization.

From Harlem, he joined the Rockefeller Foundation, where he ultimately rose to vice president, and oversaw all domestic and international programs. Beginning in 2002, he helped guide the foundation’s programs in education, civil rights, workforce development, and program-related investments. He also supervised Rockefeller’s foreign offices, initiated new programming in urban development and arts and culture, and led its post-Katrina New Orleans Recovery Program.

Nearly a decade later, he was recruited to the Ford Foundation as vice president responsible for education, creativity, and free expression programs, as well as the foundation’s four Africa offices. As vice president, he shaped more than $140 million in annual grant making around the world, covering areas as diverse as media and journalism, arts and culture, sexuality and reproductive health and rights, educational access and opportunity, and religion. He was a driving force behind initiatives such as JustFilms, one of the largest documentary film funds in the world, and public-private collaborations such as ArtPlace, which supports cultural development in cities and rural areas in America.

In 2013 the Ford Foundation trustees appointed him chief executive, and today he oversees more than $12 billion in assets, $500 million in grants, and 10 international offices. As the head of the foundation, he has emphasized the importance of bringing together philanthropy,  government, and business to advance social justice. He was recently credited by the New York Times as playing “a critical role in saving Detroit’s pensions and art collection in the city’s bankruptcy proceedings”—the result of an innovative partnership between nine foundations, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the State of Michigan.

Darren serves on various boards, including Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Friends of the High Line, New York City Ballet, and the Arcus Foundation. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He holds bachelor’s degrees in government and in speech communication from the University of Texas at Austin as well as a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Texas School of Law.   

Passionate about his adopted city of New York, he lives in Manhattan with his partner, David Beitzel, a contemporary art dealer in Chelsea, and their English bulldog, Mary Lou.


About the AAMC
The Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) has over 1,300 members from over 400 institutions, including representation from all 50 states and 5 Canadian provinces. AAMC & the AAMC Foundation celebrates the curatorial narrative by supporting and promoting the work of art curators at all stages in their careers through opportunities for networking, collaboration, professional development, and career advancement.   In 2015, AAMC began accepting members from around the globe, strengthening our already powerful outreach in the community.

In the ever-changing, non-profit, visual art world, AAMC is a voice for all curators—regardless of field, experience level, and institutional type.  We ensure that the curatorial perspective on art, museums, and educational issues are actively communicated to the public, media, and museum profession. For more information, please visit





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