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Art Curators Association Announces Conference Keynotes

Monday, October 7, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lucy Lydon
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Kaywin Feldman, Alexandra Suda, Vishakha N. Desai, and Barbara Earl Thomas
To Participate in Keynote Dialogues at AAMC & AAMC Foundation’s 2020 Conference 

Annual Conference to be held in Seattle May 2-6, 2020

October 7, 2019 --- The Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) and AAMC Foundation released details of its Keynote Dialogues for its next annual Conference, May 2–6, 2020, in Seattle, Washington. The organizations’ largest singular program, the annual Conference brings together nearly 400 curators and allied professionals for five days of talks, workshops, and networking opportunities. 

The Conference will launch on Sunday, May 3, with a Keynote Discussion between Kaywin Feldman, Director, National Gallery of Art, and Sasha Suda, Director and CEO, National Gallery of Canada. This conversation brings together directors of national arts museums: Feldman, the first woman to hold this important national position at the NGA and Suda, fourth woman and the youngest person to ever take the director’s post in Ottawa. These visionary leaders will address and discuss strategies and goals of achieving and maintaining inclusive environments that value and connect audiences.  

Vishakha N. Desai, President Emerita Asia Society and Senior Research Scholar in Global Studies at Columbia University, and Barbara Earl Thomas, writer and visual artist, will lead a Keynote Dialogue on Monday, May 4. Their trailblazing legacies in addressing equity and inclusion, as well as experience in integrating contemporary issues of local and global art into historical museums will foster their conversation encompassing the critical role the arts play in advancing and shaping humanity’s potential. 

“It is an honor to welcome Kaywin, Sasha, Vishakha and Barbara to present Keynote Dialogues at our Conference,” said Marianne Lamonaca, Chief Curator / Associate Director of the Gallery, Bard Graduate Center and AAMC & AAMC Foundation Board President,  “As an organization we take seriously our commitment to present the work of cultural leaders with diverse points of view from whom curators and our stakeholders can learn, share, and collaborate. We look forward to lively conversations.”

The expansive five day Conference will also feature specific panels on identity of Latinx art, indigeneity, terminology of global, concepts of borders, and decentralization in the arts.  Through open forums, RoundTables, and workshops, additional conversations will reconsider linear narratives, investigate social and cross-cultural interactions, and activism.  Special events and tours are scheduled at the Seattle Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park, Asian Art Museum, and 15+ more sites around the Seattle area. 

Attendance is open to current AAMC members, sponsors, and invited guests. Early bird registration opens on January 15, 2020. Sponsorship opportunities include access to our audience and opportunities to lead informal forums. Advertisements are available in our conference catalog.  For more information visit

Keynote Speaker Brief Biographies

Kaywin Feldman

Prior to joining the Gallery, Feldman led the Minneapolis Institute of Art as its Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President. Feldman galvanized the galleries and expanded the museum's collection while also transforming the institution's relationship to its city by opening its doors to community dialogue, doubling attendance, and engaging with inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility in the field. 

Sasha Suda 

Prior to joining the National Gallery, Sasha led curatorial teams and initiatives that redefined audience engagement and collection building strategies at the Art Gallery of Ontario as the Curator of European Art and R. Fraser Elliott Curator of Prints and Drawings. At the National Gallery she is leading a transformational shift towards a people-centered institution hinged on art, a warm welcome, and a future-forward culture. Sasha has an AB from Princeton, an MA from Williams College, and a PhD from the Institute of Arts, NYU.

Vishakha N. Desai 

From 1990 to 2012, Desai held a variety of positions at the Asia Society, initially as the Director of the Asia Society Museum and then as President and CEO. Desai has been the recipient of numerous international and national grants and fellowships, Desai has received five honorary degrees from American Universities. In 2012, in recognition of Desai’s leadership in the museum field, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Museums and Library Services Board.

Barbara Earl Thomas

Thomas works across media including public sculpture, cut-paper installations, egg tempera, and glass. Born in the northwest to Southern parents her artistic vision is expressed through a dual heritage for which she credits her ability to tell a good story.  She is a witness and a chronicler who creates stories from the apocalypse we live in now and narrates how life goes on in midst of the chaos. Thomas has lectured on arts and culture as well as serving as a social and cultural activist who was instrumental in the creation of the Northwest African American Museum, where she served as its executive director from 2008 to 2012. She received her BA and MFA from the University of Washington School of Art.  She has upcoming major exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum in 2020 and the Henry Gallery in 2021. She is represented by Claire Oliver Gallery in New York. 

Full bios on the speakers are available here.  

About AAMC & AAMC Foundation 

Founded in 2001, the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) & AAMC Foundation advances the curatorial field through forward-looking leadership in development and educational opportunities for  learning and connecting at every stage of a curator’s career. In partnership with more than 1,300 members, we serve as a resource for the profession’s best practices, codes of conduct and ethical standards. We provide a platform for the exchange of a broad range of information on critical issues driving the field, including diversity and inclusion, digital innovation, artistic voices and histories, and marketing and audience engagement. Our members include independent curators and staff members from 500+ art organizations and museums in eighteen countries, ranging from leading national institutions to community-based art organizations. Through our work we serve members, professional colleagues, and the public, and our outreach reflects diverse perspectives within the field, often examining strategic directions of curatorial practice and art organization management. With a network spanning the globe, we are an ambassador and advocate for all art curators and the leading champion of their significant contributions.

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