Darnell-Jamal Lisby joined the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2021. A fashion historian, his charge is to develop projects rooted in fashion studies that range across the museum’s various curatorial departments. Lisby has a thorough understanding of the broader history of fashion dating back to the 14th century, but his particular focus is illuminating the intersection of Blackness and fashion studies in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Before coming to Cleveland, Lisby was an education coordinator at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where he organized programming for advanced design audiences and adults, including the museum’s first virtual—and best attended—symposium, “Fashion, Culture, Futures: African American Ingenuity, Activism, and Storytelling.” Prior to Cooper Hewitt, Lisby worked at an array of institutions in New York City, including the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where as a MuSe intern he helped research the 2018 exhibition Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. He also taught in the Fashion Institute of Technology master’s program in fashion design, fortifying emerging designers with the historical knowledge they require to pursue fruitful careers.
As a curator, Lisby served as an advisor for the 2021 exhibition Voices of Fashion: Black Couture, Beauty, and Styles at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and was the sole fashion historian on the curatorial team for Willi Smith: Street Couture at Cooper Hewitt. He has published extensively on numerous academic and mainstream platforms, including the Fashion and Race Database, Cultured magazine, and Teen Vogue.
Lisby holds three degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology: an MA in fashion and textiles studies: history, theory, museum practice; a BS in art history and museum professions; and an AAS in fashion merchandising.