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March 19, 2021

Nasher Museum of Art Names Lauren Haynes Senior Curator

Lauren Haynes. Photo: Rana Young.

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA—Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art has hired Lauren Haynes away from her post as curator of contemporary art and director of artist initiatives at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Haynes will step into the role of senior curator at the Durham, North Carolina museum on June 7. Her hiring follows the promotion of Nasher chief curator Trevor Schoonmaker to director of the institution.

“I am thrilled that Lauren is joining our team,” Schoonmaker said in a statement, noting that he first met Haynes in 2008 at “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” at the Studio Museum of Harlem, where she worked from 2006. Haynes, who holds a BA in art history with a minor in African American studies from Oberlin College, established herself as an associate curator there with exhibitions such as “Stanley Whitney: Dance the Orange” (2015) and “Alma Thomas” (2016), which she co-organized with Skidmore College’s Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum. She moved to Crystal Bridges in 2016, where she cocurated “The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art” (2018), coordinated the first US presentation of “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” (2018), and led the curatorial team that put together “State of the Art 2020.”

Originally having planned to study law, Haynes took a work-study job at Oberlin’s Allen Memorial Art Museum while a student and fell in love with art.

“The woman who was the director of the art museum at the time, Sharon Patton, was an African-American woman who was a huge scholar in African-American art history—she literally wrote the book on many of these subjects, something I didn’t know at all when I took this job,” Haynes told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last year. “But my first experience with a museum was seeing someone who looked like me in charge. It wasn’t until I got more into the field that I realized how completely rare that was, that you would see a black woman in charge of the museum.”

Haynes will join a curatorial team of five at the Nasher. “I have known and been an admirer of the work that the Nasher does for the majority of my career,” she said in a statement. “I am very excited by the opportunity to be part of this team that is doing really exciting work, and also wants to continue to do more, is ambitious, and is helping to chart what the future looks like.”

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