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Thelma Golden

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Information about Thelma Golden

Profile image of Thelma Golden

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Museum Director
Curator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Mangoes
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Fantastic

Birthplace

Born:
9/22/1965
Birth Location:
St. Albans, Queens, New York

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Museum Director
Curator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Mangoes
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Fantastic

Birthplace

Born:
9/22/1965
Birth Location:
St. Albans, Queens
See how Thelma Golden is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Museum director and curator Thelma Golden was born on September 22, 1965 in Queens, New York. In 1983, she graduated from the New Lincoln School, where she trained as a curatorial apprentice at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in her senior year. In 1987, she earned her B.A. degree in art history and African American studies from Smith College.

Golden worked first as a curatorial intern at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1987, then as a curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1988. From 1989 to 1991, she worked as the visual arts director for the Jamaica Arts Center in Queens, New York, where she curated eight shows. Golden was then appointed branch director of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Philip Morris branch in 1991 and curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1996. While at the Whitney, she organized numerous groundbreaking exhibitions, including the 1993 Whitney Biennial and 1994’s Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art. She also organized Bob Thompson: A Retrospective (1998), Heart, Mind, Body, Soul: New Work from the Collection (1998), and Hindsight: Recent Work from the Permanent Collection (1999). Golden also presented projects by artists Alison Saar, Glenn Ligon, Gary Simmons, Romare Bearden, Matthew McCaslin, Suzanne McClelland, Lorna Simpson, Jacob Lawrence, and Leone & MacDonald. She also worked as the special projects curator for contemporary art collectors Peter Norton and Eileen Harris Norton from 1998 to 2000. Golden returned to the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2000, where she was named deputy director for exhibitions and programs, and director and chief curator in 2005. Golden organized numerous exhibitions at the Studio Museum, including Isaac Julien: Vagabondia (2000); Martin Puryear: The Cane Project (2000); Glenn Ligon: Stranger (2001); Freestyle (2001); Black Romantic: The Figurative Impulse in Contemporary Art (2002); harlemworld: Metropolis as Metaphor (2004); Chris Ofili: Afro Muses (2005); Frequency (2005–2006); Africa Comics (2006–2007); and Kori Newkirk: 1997–2007 (2007–2008). Golden also lectured at several institutions, including Columbia University, Yale University, and the Royal College of Art in London. In addition, she contributed essays about Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Bill T. Jones, Kara Walker, and Glenn Ligon to various publications.

Golden received honorary degrees from Moore College of Art and Design, Smith College, and the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2008, she was a member of the advisory team of the Whitney Biennial; and in 2007, a juror for the UK Turner Prize. Golden served on the graduate committee for Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, and on the boards of Creative Time in New York and the Institute of International Visual Arts in London. In 2016, she was awarded the Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence.

Golden is married to London fashion designer Duro Olowu.

Thelma Golden was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 9, 2016.

See how Thelma Golden is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thelma Golden's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden describes her father's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden describes her father's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden describes her father's family background, pt. 3
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden talks about her father's parenting style
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden recalls how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Thelma Golden describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden describes her mother as a young adult
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden talks about the closeness of her mother's immediate family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden describes her neighborhood in St. Albans in Queens, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden recalls the way in which she and her brother were raised
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden describes her mother's parenting style
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden remembers the relationship between her mother and paternal grandmother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden describes her childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Thelma Golden talks about the black Presbyterian Church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden talks about her parents' social and political ideologies
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden describes her experiences at Buckley Country Day School in Roslyn, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden describes the Buckley Country Day School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden talks about her favorite subjects
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden describes the films 'Mahogany' and 'The Wiz'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden recalls her early interest in art history
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden describes the New Lincoln School in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden talks about her exposure to the art world in high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Thelma Golden describes her experiences at the New Lincoln School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden describes her decision to attend Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden remembers her professor, Walter Morris-Hale, at Smith College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden recalls her internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden describes her relationship with James Baldwin
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden talks about James Baldwin's influence in her life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden recalls her summer retail jobs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden describes her curatorial fellowship at the Studio Museum in Harlem, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden describes her curatorial fellowship at the Studio Museum in Harlem, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden remembers Harlem, New York in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden recalls her interview at the Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden describes her role at the Whitney Museum of American Art, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden describes her role at the Whitney Museum of American Art, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden talks about the role of curators
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden recalls working with Kellie Jones at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden describes the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden remembers the artists exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden describes her relationship with Raymond J. McGuire
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden recalls working at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden recalls her role as associate curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden describes the retrospective exhibition of Bob Thompson's work
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden remembers the work of Lowery Stokes Sims
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden describes the ideas and influences of 'Black Male'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden remembers the public response to her exhibition, 'Black Male'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden recalls her parents' reactions to 'Black Male,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden recalls her parents' reactions to 'Black Male,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden remembers her colleagues' support of 'Black Male'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden remembers the media's critique to 'Black Male'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden talks about the importance of the 'Black Male' exhibition
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden remembers her work at the Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden recalls working with Lowery Stokes Sims at the Studio Museum in Harlem, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden recalls working with Lowery Stokes Sims at the Studio Museum in Harlem, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden remembers the board members at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden talks about Lowery Stokes Sims' leadership at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden describes the 'Freestyle' exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden recalls meeting artist Mark Bradford
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden remembers her relationship with artist Glenn Ligon
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden describes her relationship with artist Lorna Simpson
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden talks about her working relationship with artists
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden describes the exhibitions and programs at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden talks about the space of the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden recalls her transition to director of the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden describes her role as director of the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden remembers her art mentors, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden remembers her art mentors, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden describes her fundraising responsibilities
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden talks about presence of the Studio Museum in Harlem in the community
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden reflects upon her accomplishments at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden talks about the proposed expansion to the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden talks about her goals for the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden describes the post-black art movement, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden describes the post-black art movement, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden reflects upon the art world during the 2016 Presidential Election
  • Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden describes how she met her husband, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Thelma Golden describes how she met her husband, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden talks about her long-distance marriage, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden talks about her long-distance marriage, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden describes her husband's cultural background
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden talks about her fellowship at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden describes her work with the Obama Administration, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden describes her work with the Obama Administration, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden remembers attending President Barack Obama's state dinner
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Thelma Golden describes Peggy Cooper Cafritz
  • Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Thelma Golden talks about her relationships with women in the art world
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden talks about her maternal figures
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Thelma Golden reflects upon the work of Maya Angelou
  • Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Thelma Golden shares her goals for the future
  • Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Thelma Golden describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Thelma Golden reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Thelma Golden narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Thelma Golden narrates her photographs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Thelma Golden narrates her photographs, pt. 3