After the abrupt departure of its chief curator last years, Guggenheim Museum has finally found a replacement in Naomi Beckwith.
In art circles, Naomi Beckwith is already a known name. She has been serving as a senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago) since 2011. during her tenure, she is credited with organizing numerous well-received shows. Perhaps the most famous one was the Howardenna Pindell retrospective that opened in 2018 and has since travelled to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond) and Rose Arts Museum (Waltham).
Before MMA, Beckwith was with the Studio Museum in Harlem where she was the associate curator. This was where she first emerged as someone to notice, with shows like Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Perhaps her most acclaimed event there was “30 Seconds Off An Inch“, a survey that focused on the line between art and life from the perspective of Black artists. Currently, Beckwith is also with the curatorial team behind “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America“, which will open in the museum next month.
Many think that Beckwith’s appointment is no coincidence, at a time when Guggenheim Museum has been accused of having a racist work environment. The previous chief curator at the museum, Nancy Spector, had to resign after an independent curator accused the museum of racist environment. However, a later independent investigation found no evidence of racism in the museum or the management. While Beckwith is the first Black chief curator at the museum, Ashley James was the first Black curator ever at Guggenheim when she was hired in 2019.