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Ngaire Blankenberg to Lead National Museum of African Art

Ngaire Blankenberg to Lead National Museum of African Art


Ngaire Blankenberg to Lead National Museum of African Art

The Smithsonian has named Ngaire Blankenberg as the next director of the Museum of African Art. Blankenberg, a member of the African diaspora and a longtime arts consultant with a history of helping museums and cultural organizations become more inclusive and engaged with their surrounding communities and the world at large, assumed leadership of the Washington, DC, institution July 6. She succeeds interim director Deborah Mack, who stepped in after Augustus Casely-Hayford left the post in March 2020.“The National Museum of African Art embodies the Smithsonian’s mission to foster understanding, inspire dialogue and bring people together irrespective of language, culture or border,” said Lonnie Bunch, the Secretary of the Smithsonian, in a statement. “Ngaire’s leadership and experience will be invaluable in using the museum’s unparalleled collections and scholarship of African Art to further our reach, diversify our audiences and have a more profound impact on the nation and world.”Blankenberg holds a BA in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and an MA in media and cultural studies from the University of Natal, in Durban, South Africa. In recent years, she has helped a number of organizations come up with decolonization plans and assisted them with concept development and public engagement strategies. Among these are Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada, Miami’s Superblue, Johannesburg’s Museum and Archive of the Constitution at the Hill, Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and Geneva’s Musée d’ethnographie. Previously, Blankenberg was head of strategy at Amsterdam design agency Kossmanndejong, and before that she served as director of Lord Cultural resources, after assisting that outfit as a consultant for nearly a decade.“Museums are institutions that carry a lot of systemic baggage from their colonial origins, but they are vital public spaces to reconsider how we connect and contend with one another and the planet, and where we can redefine, heal and reconcile,” she noted in a statement. “The National Museum of African Art sits physically in a city with one of the biggest populations of African peoples in the U.S. Digitally it reaches far into the diaspora. I am so grateful for the trust being placed in me to continue to care for, build, interpret and share NMAfA’s fantastic collection, particularly in this new era of US-African relations.”


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