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Leading Female Art Curators


10 Mar 2023

Four Leading Female Art Curators & What They’re Curating Right Now.

Although the artworld has historically been dominated by male figures, the industry has seen a significant shift with influential female art curators at the helm of prominent art galleries and organisations. As a nod to International Women’s Day, we recently learned from four female art curators at the top of their game and found out what they were curating. We also investigated key points on how to successfully manage an art gallery.

Thelma Golden x Ming Smith

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Thelma Golden is a highly respected curator and art historian who has made significant contributions to the field of contemporary art. As the Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Golden has worked to showcase the work of emerging and established artists of African descent. Her exhibitions and programming have explored themes such as identity, race, and representation, highlighting the diverse perspectives and experiences of black artists.

Currently under Golden’s curatorship until 29 May 2023 at the Studio Museum, Projects: Ming Smith is a deep dive into Smith’s archive of photographic works, offering a critical reintroduction to a photographer who has been living and working in New York since the 1970s. Ming has inspired a generation of artists engaging the politics and poetics of the photographic image in relation to experiences of blackness.

In an interview with Cultured, when asked what she thought of the future of her work, she said: “Somehow, I’m in a different position, because the younger generation is looking at me and asking me questions. More than anything, there’s opportunity now. Some young girl can say, ‘I can be in a museum. I can make work for my authentic self, and it is valuable.’”

Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi x Sharjah Biennial 15

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Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi is a prominent figure in the art world, serving as the President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation in the United Arab Emirates. Under her leadership, the foundation has become one of the most important institutions for contemporary art in the Middle East, hosting exhibitions, events, and programmes that bring together artists and audiences from around the world.

Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by Hoor Al-Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present is currently on display until 11 June 2023, and features 300 works by over 150 artists and collectives, installed in five cities and towns across the emirate. Hoor Al-Qasimi interprets and re-envisions the titular proposal by the late thinker, Enwezor, to critically centre the past within the contemporary moment.

Elena Filipovic x Iris Touliatou

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Curator and writer Elena Filipovic is currently the Director and Chief Curator of the Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland, where she has organised numerous exhibitions and events that challenge traditional notions of art and the museum. Filipovic is also the author of the influential book The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp, which examines the artist’s lesser-known works and practices. Her work as a curator and writer has helped to expand the world’s understanding of what art can be and how it can be exhibited.


Greek artist Iris Touliatou’s exhibition entitled Gift is currently on display at Kunsthalle Basel – which began with an almost forensic investigation of the museum. Touliatou used the infrastructure, administrative, and historical aspects of the institution to create a “score” or conditions for her experimental exhibition.

Yuko Hasegawa x ‘Feminism’

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A revered and respected curator and writer, Yuko Hasegawa has organised numerous exhibitions and events in Japan and around the world. She is currently the Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa where she has curated exhibitions that explore themes such as technology, globalisation, and cultural identity. Hasegawa is known for her interdisciplinary approach to curating, bringing together works of art, music, and performance to create immersive and thought-provoking exhibitions.

A recent exhibition curated by Hasegawa at the museum, Feminism focuses on the social changes of the 2020s, and is quoted as “extending a helping hand to anyone who feels out of place in society … The message of pluralistic feminisms is the importance and necessity of members of society mutually acknowledging diverse ways of thinking.” In the exhibitions, works by nine artists – each with their own perspective on feminisms – offer a window into expressions of this societal topic in Japan, and how artists perceive gender, the body, society, and what lies beyond.

Managing an art gallery is rewarding as well as challenging, and here are five points to keep in mind when you’re responsible for the management and curation of an art gallery.

How to manage an art gallery – five key points:

  1. Define a clear vision and goals for the gallery, which will guide the type of artworks you showcase, the audience you attract, and the message you convey.

  2. Build strong relationships with artists and collectors through networking, attending events, and creating a community around your gallery.

  3. Consistently curate and display artworks that fit your gallery’s vision, and create ongoing compelling exhibitions to engage your audience.

  4. Use various channels such as social media, to communicate and engage with new and existing audiences, while promoting artists and their work.

  5. Keep detailed records of all transactions and exhibitions, while staying on top of budget management and expenses.

Inspired by the words of curator Thelma Golden, we leave you with the following quote: “As a gallery manager, it’s important to create an environment that encourages artists to take risks and experiment with their work. Curate exhibitions that push boundaries and challenge the status quo, and build relationships with artists based on trust and mutual respect.” - Thelma Golden, the Studio Museum in Harlem.