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 approximately 480 historical and contemporary African artworks spanning some 2,500 years of creativity. In this role, she uses an expansive and inclusive curatorial model to research, present, and build the collection. At the CMA, she has served as host curator of Second Careers: Two Tributaries in African Art (2020) and curator of Threads across Time: African Textiles, 500–1993 in Stories from Storage (2021).
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 a “Top 10 Must-See Summer Exhibition” 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 (2020) prompted dialogues 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 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 frequently lectured on African arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other New York City–area museums.
A first-generation college graduate, Windmuller-Luna holds a PhD and MA in African arts and architectures from Princeton University and a BA in art history from Yale University. Her research on historical and contemporary African arts has 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. She serves on the board of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association.