Jessica Bell Brown Named Contemporary Art Chief at BMA

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) today revealed that it has promoted Jessica Bell Brown to curator and head of its contemporary art department. In her new role, Brown, who arrived to the BMA in 2019 as an associate curator of contemporary art, will manage the museum’s rapidly growing collection, organize presentations, and oversee two associate curators, two curatorial assistants, and a fellow.

“Since joining the BMA, Jessica has positioned artists’ voices at the core of her curatorial work, creating new platforms to experience art as envisioned by its makers and bridging institutional and artistic visions and approaches,” said chief curator and interim codirector Asma Naeem in a statement. “Her vision, keen insights, and commitment to artists will be integral as the BMA continues to diversify its collections and expand the narratives of art through its exhibitions and programs.”

Among the exhibitions Brown has had a hand in since joining the BMA are “A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration,” which she co-organized with Ryan N. Dennis, chief curator and artistic director of the center for art and public exchange at the Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA). Featuring newly commissioned works by a dozen artists exploring the impact of the Great Migration on social and cultural life in the United States, the show launched at the MMA on April 9 and opens in Baltimore on October 30. Last year, with BMA associate curator of contemporary art Leila Grothe, she cocurated “How Do We Know the World?,” a diverse reinstallation of the museum’s contemporary art galleries investigating the ways artists engage with historic, social, political, and environmental constructs. Before arriving to the Baltimore institution, Brown, who earned her BA in art history at Northwestern and her MA in the same subject from Princeton, was consulting curator at Gracie Mansion Conservancy in New York. She has additionally worked  at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Creative Time.


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