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Asma Naeem.
Asma Naeem.

Baltimore Museum of Art Receives $3.5 Million to Endow Chief Curator

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced today that it has been gifted $3.5 million from Baltimore-based philanthropists and longtime supporters of the institution Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown to endow the position of chief curator. The Browns have previously made important contributions of both art and funds to expand the museum’s presentations and collections of works by African American artists.

“The board and I are incredibly grateful to the Browns for this historic gift, and equally thrilled to title the chief curator position in their name in recognition of their steadfast support and commitment to creative endeavor in its many forms,” said director Christopher Bedford. “We are also heartened by their active participation in the ongoing evolution of the BMA, as we take systematic steps to alter what diversity can and should mean within a museum. Shifts in curatorial and programmatic priorities are crucial, but equally important is the makeup and structure of our leadership.”

Eddie C. Brown is founder, chairman, and CEO of the investment-management firm Brown Capital Management, Inc. in Baltimore. Both he and his wife, Sylvia, have been actively involved with the BMA since 1997. They have each served for many years on the board of trustees, founded the museum’s Collectors Circle Fund for Art by African Americans with a challenge gift of $150,000, and supported the 2012 reinstallation of the BMA’s Contemporary Wing.

The announcement of the newly endowed Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator position—one of the few curatorial positions in the United States named for an African American couple—follows the August 2018 chief curatorial appointment of Asma Naeem and the museum’s commitment to acquiring more works by artists of color. In December 2018, the BMA revealed that over the past year, it has purchased works by Melvin Edwards, Norman Lewis, Zanele Muholi, Wangechi Mutu, Senga Nengudi, Amy Sherald, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others. Funds for several of the pieces were raised throught the deaccession of works by white male artists.

“We have always been compelled and inspired by the depth and interest of the BMA’s curatorial program,” Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown said in a statement. “In recent years, the museum’s commitment to excellence has been joined with a vision to examine and present a more fulsome picture of art history, giving a platform to those artists that have previously been underrepresented or left entirely out of our cultural dialogues. With the appointment of Dr. Naeem and the exciting exhibitions and initiatives to come, this seemed the perfect moment to expand our support for the museum and for the important role of chief curator.”