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Thelma Golden Wins $250K Dorothy And Lillian Gish Prize

Studio Museum in Harlem director and chief curator Thelma Golden won the 2023 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize with $250,000 prize money.

The Studio Museum in Harlem was founded in 1968 by a collective of artists, curators, and philanthropists. Since 2005, Thelma Golden has been serving as its director and chief curator. Under her leadership, the museum has expanded and hosted many significant exhibitions. Some of these include Harlem Photographs (2012), as well as Flow (2008), Fore (2012), and Fictions (2017) – exhibitions aimed to promote young, emerging artists.

One of the most ambitious tasks initiated under Golden’s leadership was the expansion of the Studio Museum in Harlem on West 125th Street, which began in 2018 and is still ongoing. Prior to joining Studio Museum, Thelma Golden was a curator at the Whitney Museum. During her tenure, she was behind the Whitney Biennial (1993) and the Black Male (1994) survey.

The Gish Sisters in their hayday

Speaking about her selection as the winner, Thelma Golden said: “As a curator and museum director who has been privileged to work for and on behalf of artists for my entire career, I am humbled to receive this prize that was created by an artist and has been given to so many creative leaders I greatly admire. Working in service of artists in general, and very specifically Black artists, has allowed me to engage broadly in the world. I gratefully accept the Gish Prize and wholly acknowledge what an honor it has been to be able to provide space, alongside the many institutional colleagues, Board members, and supporters who are equally committed to advancing the work these artists do.”

The Dorothy And Lillian Gish Prize was established in memory of the Gish sisters, who were prominent Hollywood actresses of their time. The award was instituted in 1995 by their trust and has been given every year since then. The award is given to people with significant contributions to the arts, and previous winners include names like Spike Lee, Maya Lin, and Peter Sellars.