Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, announced the appointment of Naomi Beckwith to the position of Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator. In this role, Beckwith will oversee collections, exhibitions, publications, and curatorial programs and archives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and provide strategic direction within the international network of affiliate museums for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. A member of the Executive Leadership team, Beckwith will work closely with the Director, Trustees, and staff on planning and implementing strategy across the museum and on its global initiatives. She will play an instrumental role in shaping the museum’s vision. Beckwith joins the Guggenheim from Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where she has held curatorial posts since 2011. Her position at the Guggenheim begins in early June 2021.
“With her highly regarded accomplishments, scholarship that contributes to building a revised canon of art history, and creative projects that connect artists of today with growing audiences, Naomi Beckwith will be a catalytic leader for our outstanding curatorial team,” Armstrong observed. “We warmly welcome Naomi. Her expertise will be invaluable in advancing and amplifying an inclusive range of perspectives within the Guggenheim collection and culture. We look forward to working with her to develop avenues for new research and programming, and to create powerful and meaningful ways to deepen engagement with modern and contemporary art.”
Beckwith said, “One cannot overstate the iconicity and consequence of the Guggenheim Museum—yet, refusing to rest on its laurels, it readily presents projects that disrupt art history’s mythologies. I’m excited to join the Guggenheim and its passionate team at a pivotal moment. I look forward to merging our shared goals of expanding the story of art, and also working to shape a new reality for arts and culture.”
An integral part of the Guggenheim’s senior leadership, Beckwith will provide an overarching intellectual vision for museum programming to be shared with diverse audiences, including local, international, and digital constituents, and in alignment with the museum’s objectives of increased accessibility and inclusion. She will oversee the creation and implementation of the exhibition program in New York and will articulate long-range collection strategies for the growth of all Guggenheim museums. She will advise on all global arts initiatives, will actively partner with the curatorial teams at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, and will collaborate on the development of collection and programmatic strategies for the future museum in Abu Dhabi.
Beckwith comes to the Guggenheim from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where she has served as Manilow Senior Curator since 2018. During her tenure at the MCA, since 2011, her exhibitions and publications have centered on the impact of identity and multidisciplinary practices within contemporary art. She organized and co-organized acclaimed exhibitions such as Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen, the first survey of the artist, and whose catalogue received the George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award. Beckwith also developed The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now and Homebodies, as well as solo shows on The Propeller Group, Keren Cytter, Leslie Hewitt, William J. O’Brien, and Jimmy Robert; and a project with Yinka Shonibare CBE. Before joining the MCA, Beckwith was Associate Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she organized exhibitions such as Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Any Number of Preoccupations (2011) and 30 Seconds off an Inch (2009–10).
Beckwith served on the jury for the 2020 Hugo Boss Prize, administered by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and is a member of the curatorial team realizing Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, an exhibition conceived by the late curator Okwui Enwezor for the New Museum. Beckwith’s other recent shows include The Long Dream, a presentation of 70 Chicago artists organized in response to the pandemic and social unrest; Prisoner of Love, centered around Arthur Jafa’s video phenomenon Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death; and Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera, a retrospective that traveled from the Museum of Modern Art Fort Worth. The exhibition catalogue for Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, edited by Beckwith, was recognized in the New York Times Best Art Books of 2020. Beckwith serves on the boards of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Laundromat Project, and she chaired the inaugural Curatorial Leadership Summit at the Armory Show in 2018. She has received fellowships at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the Center for Curatorial Leadership, and other institutions. Beckwith holds an MA, with Distinction, from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and a BA in history from Northwestern University in Chicago.