Association of Art Museum Curators Names Recipients of 2019 Awards for Excellence -ARTnews

A group of the 2019 awardees at a reception at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York.


The Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) and the AAMC Foundation has named the 20 U.S. curators who will be receiving its 2019 Awards for Excellence. This year’s honorees were selected from 150 nominations, and work in a variety of fields, including native and indigenous art, contemporary art, folk art, medieval art, American art, media art, and photography.

Judith Pineiro, executive director of AAMC and AAMC Foundation, said in a statement, “For 15 years, curators have recognized the trailblazing achievements of their peers through our annual Awards for Excellence. It is a privilege to celebrate this year’s awardees who, through their work, have fostered dynamic dialogue and broader engagement in the arts.”

The 2019 awardees are listed below.


  • Mindy N. Besaw, curator of American art at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, for a re-installation of the early American art galleries at the museum
  • Taína B. Caragol, curator of painting and sculpture and Latinx art and history at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and Asma Naeem, chief curator at the Baltimore Museum of Art, for “UnSeen: Our Past in a New light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar” at the National Portrait Gallery
  • Kristen Collins, curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Bryan C. Keene, associate curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum, for “Outcasts: Prejudice and Persecution in the Medieval World” at the J. Paul Getty Museum
  • Tom Joyce, professional artist and lead guest curator at the Fowler Museum at UCLA; Marla C. Berns, director of the Fowler Museum at UCLA; and Allen F. Roberts, professor of world arts and cultures/dance at UCLA, for “Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths” at the Fowler Museum at UCLA
  • Karen Kramer, curator of Native American and Oceanic art and culture at the Peabody Essex Museum, for “T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America” at the Peabody Essex Museum
  • Jen Mergel, independent curator, for “Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace,” presented by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy


  • Wassan Al-Khudhairi, chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, for Third Space at the Birmingham Museum of Art
  • Corinne Granof, curator of academic programs at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, and Amy Beste, director of public programs in the departments of film, video, new media & animation, sound, art & technology studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, for Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio at the Block Museum of Art
  • Karl Kusserow, curator of America art at Princeton University Art Museum, and Alan C. Braddock, associate professor of art history and American studies at the College of William & Mary, for Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment at Princeton University Art Museum
  • Sarah Kelly Oehler, chair and curator of American art at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Esther Adler, associate curator in the department of drawings and prints at the Museum of Modern Art, for Charles White: A Retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art

Article, Essay, or Extended Catalogue

  • John P. Lukavic, curator of Native arts at Denver Art Museum, for “WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN, WHAT IS, AND WHAT WILL BE” in Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer, published by Denver Art Museum and DelMonico Books/Prestel

Digital Publication

  • Trevor Smith, curator of the Present Tense initiative at the Peabody Essex Museum, and Lydia Gordon, assistant curator for exhibitions and research at the Peabody Essex Museum, for PlayTime

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