The New-York Historical Society has promoted Wendy E. Ikemoto as their chief curator, making her the first Indigenous person to do so.
The New-York Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York, established in 1804. However, in its more than 200 years of history, the museum’s leadership has been very conservative in including marginalized groups in the circle. This changed with the appointment of Wendy Ikemoto as the chief curator. Ikemoto becomes one of the few Indigenous people to serve as the chief curator in a major American museum.
Wendy Ikemoto joined the New-York Historical Society in 2018 as an associate curator. She was promoted to senior curator; in less than 2 years, she has again found herself a new title. During her tenure at the museum, Ikemoto made a name for herself after ably managing dozens of successful exhibitions. These include “Dreaming Together” (2020-21), “Monuments: Commemoration and Controversy” (2021), and “Nature, Crisis, Consequence” (2022). She also acquired several artists during her tenure, including Augusta Savage, Betye Saar, and Oscar yi Hou. Currently, New-York Historical Society is showing an exhibition on the works of Kay WalkingStick, another artist she acquired.
When New-York Historical Society launched the Museum Studies in partnership with the City University of New York, Wendy Ikemoto was part of the inaugural faculty. Speaking of her promotion, Agnes Hsu-Tang (museum board chair) said: “The New-York Historical Society is fortunate to have a new generation of talents rising to leadership roles from within. … Wendy has demonstrated exceptional intellectual heft and curatorial audacity, and now she trailblazes the field of American art to become the first—among a new generation of Indigenous and Native Hawaiian curators—to lead the curatorial department of a historical American institution.”