The front of the New-York Historical Society from Central Park West. Photo: John Wallen

The Henry Luce Foundation will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its seminal American Art Program with a year-long series of virtual conversations on American art and museums, to be hosted by the New-York Historical Society.  

Since its founding in 1982, the Foundation’s American Art Program has made over 1400 grants, totaling more than, $215,000,000, to 500 museums across the fifty states and abroad. The program continues to award approximately $7,000,000 in grants annually for innovative museum projects in the visual arts of the United States, including Native American art. Through this work, we seek to advance the role of visual arts in an open and equitable society, and the potential of museums to serve as public forums for art-centered conversations that celebrate creativity, explore difference, and seek common ground.  

The Henry Luce Foundation Conversations on American Art and Museums series will consist of twelve, hour-long virtual programs over the course of a year, beginning in September 2022. The field-leading moderators are all directors or project leads who were supported by Luce grants. Each moderator, in turn, has invited conversation partners to join them, selecting individuals engaged in exemplary practices through which they are moving the field in productive new directions and offering important critical perspectives. The conversation topics will include: field-leading work and ideas in the areas of African American, Asian American, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ representation; pivotal shifts in the understanding and presentation of craft, outlier art, and work by artists with disabilities; and climate-focused collaborations with artists. 

Deliberately forward-facing rather than retrospective, the anniversary program will explore what the best futures of American art and museums might look like. This framing aligns with the American Art Program’s efforts to empower museums and arts organizations to reconsider accepted histories, foreground the voices and experiences of underrepresented artists and cultures, and welcome diverse collaborators and communities into dialogue.  

In order of appearance, the program moderators will be:  

  • Rick West (Cheyenne), former President and CEO of the Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles  
  • Christopher Bedford, Helen and Charles Schwab Director, SFMoMA
  • Richard Aste, Director and CEO, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio  
  • Kellie Jones, Chair, Department African American and African Diaspora Studies and Hans Hofmann Professor of Modern Art, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University  
  • Catherine Morris, Senior Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum  
  • Julie Decker, Director and CEO, Anchorage Museum, Alaska  
  • Karen Kramer, Stuart W. and Elizabeth F. Pratt Curator of Native American and Oceanic Art and Culture, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
  • E. Carmen Ramos, Chief Curatorial and Conservation officer, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC  
  • Glenn Adamson, Independent curator and writer  
  • Melissa Ho, Curator of 20th Century Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC  
  • Lacy Schutz, Executive Director, Shaker Museum, Chatham, NY  
  • Betsy Bradley, Director, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS 

Conversation participants will include: Gonzalo Casals, Senior Research and Policy Fellow for Arts and Culture, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Bridget R. Cooks, Associate Professor, African American Studies, and Art History, University of California, Irvine; Katy Siegel, Research Director, Special Program Initiatives, SFMoMA; Cameron Shaw, Executive Director, California African American Museum; Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Artist; and Seph Rodney, Art critic and writer. 

The first session on September 9th will focus on the ways in which museums of Native American art and culture are leading the reinvention of art museum missions and practices in the 21st century. Moderator Rick West will be joined in conversation by Kevin Gover, Undersecretary for Museums and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution, and Amy Scott, Executive Vice President of Research and Interpretation and the Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator of Visual Arts at the Autry Museum.  

Future conversations include:  

  • October 14, 2022: A Wider Lens: Expanding Narratives  
  • November 11, 2022: (De-)Coding Queer Identity in US Art Museums Today 
  • December 9, 2022: Black Presence and the American Art Museum 
  • January 13, 2023: Access, Outliers, and Exhibiting Disability 
  • February 10, 2023: Human/Nature: Pathways from Art to Environment 

See full schedule of events

About the Henry Luce Foundation 
The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy. For more information, visit www.hluce.org.  

About the New-York Historical Society 
Experience 400 years of history through groundbreaking exhibitions, immersive films, and thought-provoking conversations among renowned historians and public figures at the New-York Historical Society, New York’s first museum. A great destination for history since 1804, the Museum and the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library convey the stories of the city and nation’s diverse populations, expanding our understanding of who we are as Americans and how we came to be. Ever-rising to the challenge of bringing little or unknown histories to light, New-York Historical will soon inaugurate a new annex housing its Academy for American Democracy as well as the American LGBTQ+ Museum. These latest efforts to help forge the future by documenting the past join New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Center for Women’s History. Digital exhibitions, apps, and our For the Ages podcast make it possible for visitors everywhere to dive more deeply into history. Connect with us at nyhistory.org or at @nyhistory on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Tumblr