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The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo: Billy Wilson/Flickr.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo: Billy Wilson/Flickr.

Philadelphia Museum of Art to Establish Center for African Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) will create a center devoted to the history and influence of African art. The center is being made possible by an endowment from trustee Ira Brind, a financier. Known as the Brind Center for African and African Diasporic Art, it will focus on the acquisition, care, and study of art of the continent and its diaspora.

“I am thrilled to support a dynamic field of art history that has important connections to the city of Philadelphia and the global art world,” said Brind. “The stories we tell through art, and the diversity of our collection, matter. I am particularly excited to share the collection and its history with the area’s diverse population.”

The establishment of the center will allow the PMA to widen its curatorial scope and will allow it to present a fuller picture of art history. “The missing continent from within our curatorial structure was Africa, and the stories and artistic production from the African diaspora,” PMA director and chief executive Sasha Suda told the New York Times. “Almost half of our population identifies as African American.”

“There is a lack of Africa in the museum—it was always my goal to help fill it,” Brind told the paper. “It’s a passion of mine that I’ve been collecting and always intended to try to share.”

No details have yet been revealed regarding the center’s opening, but Suda told the Philadelphia Inquirer that a search for a curatorial director and assistant curator would begin soon. Attendant to the center’s creation, the museum will additionally establish a fellowship program to train graduate students in the field of African and African diasporic art.

The news comes as the newly unionized and renovated PMA attempts to recover from its mishandling of sexual harassment complaints that led to the departure of longtime leader Timothy Rub and to the hiring last June of Suda, then the well-regarded director of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario.