Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, to receive the 2016 Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence

October 16, 2015

Award Given With Audrey Irmas Prize of $25,000

Presented at CCS Bard Gala Celebration On April 6, 2016 at 6:30pm in New York City

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY, October, 2015The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard) is pleased to announce that Thelma Golden, is the recipient of the 2016 Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence. The award will be presented at a gala celebration and dinner on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 6:30pm in New York City.

Tom Eccles, Executive Director of CCS Bard states: “Through her timely exhibitions, critical thinking, and eloquent, intelligent advocacy, Thelma Golden has demonstrated that curating is of crucial importance, raising issues and developing ideas that are central to our time. Her commitment to the Studio Museum in Harlem is both exemplary and inspirational.”

The award has been designed by artist Lawrence Weiner, and is based on his 2006 commission Bard Enter, conceived for the entrance to the Hessel Museum of Art at CCS Bard. The award also comes with the Audrey Irmas Prize of $25,000.

Thelma Golden has served as Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem since 2005. The Studio Museum is the institution where she began her career in 1987, prior to a decade at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She returned in 2000 to be the Studio Museum’s Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs.

While at the Studio Museum, she has organized exhibitions including Chris Ofili: Afro Muses 1995-2005; Black Romantic: The Figurative Impulse in Contemporary Art; Freestyle; Frequency; Glenn Ligon: Stranger; and Gordon Parks: A Harlem Family 1967. During her tenure as Director, the Studio Museum has welcomed more than forty-five outstanding artists to its signature Artist-in-Residence program, expanded its collection to nearly two thousand works, significantly strengthened participation in the education and public programs while increasing their number, raised annual visitorship and gained a growing reputation as a site where diverse audiences exchange ideas about art and society. In July this year, the Studio Museum announced plans to construct a new building by architect David Adjaye as the first home designed expressly for its program.

During her period at the Whitney Museum, from 1988 through 1998, Thelma Golden was a member of the curatorial team for the 1993 Biennial, organized numerous exhibitions including 1994’s Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in American Art and served as Director of the Whitney Museum at Phillip Morris. From 1998 until 2000, Thelma Golden served as the Special Projects Curator for the contemporary art collectors and philanthropists Peter Norton and Eileen Harris Norton.

Ms. Golden holds a B.A. in Art History and African American Studies from Smith College and honorary doctorates from the City College of New York, San Francisco Art Institute, Smith College and Moore College of Art and Design. She was awarded a Barnard Medal of Distinction from Barnard College in 2010. Golden serves as a member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a position she was appointed to by President Barack Obama in 2010, and in 2015 joined the Barack Obama Foundation’s Board of Directors. She also serves as the 2015–16 Chair of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group and on the Professional Fine Arts Committee of the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. Ms. Golden was named a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute in 2008. She is active as a lecturer and panelist, speaking about contemporary art and culture at national and international institutions, and has held visiting faculty positions at colleges and universities including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and Bard. Golden also served continuously on the graduate committee at CCS Bard from 1994 until 2008.

Thelma Golden was born in Queens, New York, and currently resides in Harlem.

About CCS Bard’s Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence
For the past eighteen years, the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College has celebrated and awarded the individual achievements of a leading curator or curators whose lasting contributions have shaped the way we conceive of exhibition-making today. The 2016 award will once again be given under the name of patron Audrey Irmas, who has bestowed the endowment for the Award. Irmas is a board member of CCS Bard and an active member of the Los Angeles arts and philanthropic community.

The awardee is selected by an independent panel of leading contemporary art curators, museum directors, and artists. Past recipients include Harald Szeemann (1998), Marcia Tucker (1999), Kasper König (2000), Paul Schimmel (2001), Susanne Ghez (2002), Kynaston McShine (2003), Walter Hopps (2004), Kathy Halbreich and Mari Carmen Ramírez (2005), Lynne Cooke and Vasif Kortun (2006), Alanna Heiss (2007), Catherine David (2008), Okwui Enwezor (2009), Lucy Lippard (2010), Helen Molesworth (2011), Hans Ulrich Obrist (2011), Ann Goldstein (2012), Elisabeth Sussman (2013), Charles Esche (2014), and Christine Tohme and Martha Wilson (2015). The award reflects CCS Bard’s commitment to recognizing individuals who have defined new thinking, bold vision, and dedicated service to the field of exhibition practice. 

About the Center for Curatorial Studies
The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) was founded in 1990 as an exhibition and research center for the study of late twentieth-century and contemporary art and culture and to explore experimental approaches to the presentation of these topics and their impact on our world. Since 1994, the Center for Curatorial Studies and its graduate program have provided one of the world’s most forward thinking teaching and learning environments for the research and practice of contemporary art and curatorship. Broadly interdisciplinary, CCS Bard encourages students, faculty and researchers to question the critical and political dimension of art, its mediation and its social significance. CCS Bard cultivates innovative thinking, radical research and new ways to challenge our understanding of the social and civic values of the visual arts. CCS Bard provides an intensive educational program alongside its public events, exhibitions, and publications, which collectively explore the critical potential of the institutions and practices of exhibition-making. It is uniquely positioned within the larger Center’s tripartite resources, which include the internationally renowned CCS Bard Library and Archives and the Hessel Museum of Art, with its rich permanent collection.

General information on the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College can be found on the website:

For more information on the Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence Award Gala Dinner or to purchase tickets, please contact:

Ramona Rosenberg, CCS Bard
Tel: +1 (845) 758-7574

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Mark Primoff, Director of Communications
Tel: +1 845.758.7412      

CCS BARD CONTACT:                                           

Ramona Rosenberg, Director of External Affairs                        
Tel: +1 (845) 758-7574