Studio Museum in Harlem Director Thelma Golden Wins $250,000 Prize

Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem, has won the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, which comes with $250,000 and recognizes a person who has made a significant contribution to the arts.

Golden has led the Studio Museum since 2005 and has in that time vastly expanded the institution. It is only continuing to physically grow and is currently in the process of moving into a new home on West 125th Street.

Prior to joining the Studio Museum, she had worked as a curator at the Whitney Museum, where she organized shows such as the 1993 Biennial and 1994’s “Black Male,” an ambitious survey of attitudes toward Blackness and masculinity in contemporary art that continues to influence many today.

In a statement, 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.”

Among the prize’s past winners are filmmakers Spike Lee and Ava DuVernay, architect Maya Lin, choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, and writer Chinua Achebe.