Curator of African Art
Kristen Windmuller-Luna joined the Cleveland Museum of Art in January 2020. As curator of African art, she is responsible for the museum’s collection of historic and contemporary African arts, approximately 480 works spanning some 2,500 years of creativity. In this role, her tasks include the research and presentation of the collection as well as considering expansive and inclusive new ways of collaborating, collecting, and curating African arts in 21st-century museums.
Before her appointment at the CMA, Windmuller-Luna worked at the Brooklyn Museum as the Sills Family Consulting Curator of African Arts and as a Mellon research specialist in African arts at the Princeton University Art Museum. At Brooklyn she curated One: Egúngún (2019), which considered the life story of a 20th-century Yorùbá masquerade dance costume (egúngún) from its origins in Ògbómọ̀ṣọ́, Nigeria, to its current home in Brooklyn. It was lauded by the New York Times as one of the city’s “Top 10 Must-See Summer Exhibitions” and by Artsy as “a touchstone for an ethical model of engaging with cultural heritage objects, as well as the living histories and communities connected to them.” Pairing diverse African works with objects from around the world, African Arts—Global Conversations (February14–November 15, 2020) prompted meaningful conversations about the rightful place of African arts in the global art historical canon.
At Princeton she was responsible for in-depth research and cataloguing of the collection, object-based teaching, and curating the exhibition Changing the Conversation: African Interventions (2018).
Prior to joining the Brooklyn Museum, she was lecturer in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, Sylvan C. Coleman and Pam Coleman Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and worked at the Neuberger Museum of Art. As a museum educator, she was a frequent lecturer in African arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other New York City-area museums.
Windmuller-Luna holds a PhD and MA in African arts and architectures from Princeton University’s Department of Art and Archaeology and a BA in art history from Yale University. Her research and writing on both historic and contemporary African arts have been published and presented in a variety of African, American, and European outlets (including the journals African Arts and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art) and was featured in Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s 2017 PBS documentary Africa’s Great Civilizations.