Foreign born curators
Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba or Endy for short is the new Françoise Billion Richardson Curator of African Art. Ezeluomba, who will begin his work at NOMA August 1, 2018, will oversee and manage NOMA’s significant collection of traditional African art, which is considered one of the most important in a public museum in the United States. He is originally from Benin City, Nigeria, and comes to NOMA from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, where he was the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Research Specialist in African Art. Before his time in Virginia, Ezeluomba served as a consultant on the Elusive Spirits: African Masquerades exhibition at the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, and worked on the Harn Museum curatorial team that produced Kongo Across the Waters, examining 500 years of cultural exchange between the Kongo, Europe, and the United States, showing the rise of Kongo as a major Atlantic presence and the transmission of Kongo culture through the transatlantic slave trade into American art. The exhibition was also shown at NOMA in 2015.
Ezeluomba received a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Florida, Gainesville, specializing in historic African shrines. His dissertation, entitled Olokun Shrines: Their Functions in the Culture of the Benin Speaking People of Southern Nigeria, earned him the University of Florida Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2017. Ezeluomba received his B.A. in Fine and Applied Arts from the University of Benin, and graduated from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, where his master’s thesis focused on the contemporary Nigerian artist Obi Ekwenchi. Ezeluomba has contributed to multiple publications and journals, including Routledge Encyclopedia of African Studies, Agents of Space: Eighteenth-Century Art, Architecture and Visual Culture; Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism; Black Art Quarterly; and has presented at numerous international conferences.
Endy is part of a growing trend to hire foreign born curators for US museum curatorial positions. According to statistics only 16% of individuals in Curators, Conservators, Educators and Leadership positions have a diverse ethnicity. The new wave of experts: Nigerian born Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi at Cleveland Museum of Art , Yaëlle Biro at the MET, Nii O. Quarcoopome at the Detroit Institute of Arts, internationally respected Kosta Petrides at the Chicago Art Institute, Paris born Diala Toure at Morgan State University and is now a private appraiser, London born Augustus (Gus) Casely-Hayford has just been appointed director of the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, and more that we probably have missed.