New Orleans Museum of Art Appoints Amanda M. Maples As Françoise Billion Richardson Curator of African Art
Maples will lead the presentation and interpretation of NOMA’s important collection of African artg
NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) today announces the appointment of Amanda M. Maples as Françoise Billion Richardson Curator of African Art. Maples joins the museum this week and will oversee the museum’s significant collection of historic African art, which is considered one of the most important in the United States. In her new role, Maples will create new installations and interpretive strategies for NOMA’s permanent collection and expand the geographic and chronological scope of the African art collection with a contemporary vision.
“Amanda has distinguished herself in the field through her commitment to both the interpretation of historical objects and her expert collaboration with contemporary artists and curators working in Africa today,” said Susan M. Taylor, The Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of NOMA. “Her exhibitions evidence a crucial reconsideration of how North American museums collect and present African art.”
Maples comes to NOMA from the North Carolina Museum of Art, where she was Curator of Global African Arts and served as visiting faculty in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has curated a range of exhibitions and written essays, books, and articles on historical and contemporary African arts, decoloniality, museum policies, collecting practices, and restitution.
“Amanda thinks expansively about the presentation of historical and contemporary artworks, and I look forward to her building on NOMA’s longstanding legacy of collecting and exhibiting African art to our visitors from New Orleans and beyond,” said Lisa Rotondo-McCord, NOMA’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs. “We are delighted to welcome Amanda to New Orleans and to NOMA.”
“I am thrilled to join NOMA as the new Françoise Billion Richardson Curator of African Art,” said Maples. “As I continue to immerse myself in New Orleans, I am considering how to fill historical gaps in the museum’s extensive collection to tell the fullest story of African art possible and how NOMA can highlight the work of contemporary artists in Africa.”
Maples is currently leading the team of curators organizing New Masks Now: Artists Innovating Masquerade in Contemporary West Africa, scheduled to open at NOMA in 2025. The exhibition examines West African masquerade as a fundamentally contemporary practice and marks a significant collaboration between North American and African institutions, including NOMA and the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, Senegal. In 2018, Maples opened the exhibition Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, the first in-depth exploration of the history of Senegal’s gold, from past to present, emphasizing how Senegalese women use and have used gold jewelry in self-presentation.
“It is crucial to create new models for museums to consider African art through a multiplicity of voices,” added Maples. “I look forward to building on sustained relationships with institutions in Africa, North America, and Europe while developing new partnerships with artists to present their work in New Orleans.”
The current Dialogue Editor of the journal African Arts (published by MIT Press), Maples is also a board member of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA). She is a founding member of the Collaboration, Collections, and Restitution Best Practices for North American Museums working group (CCRBP) for institutions with collections of African art and a contributor to the Digital Benin project, an effort to collect and publish documentation on objects looted from Benin Kingdom in the late nineteenth century. Maples is a member of the Tiwaniokay Hunting Society (DC, Maryland, Virginia) and the Oju Feray Ordehlay Society of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Maples holds a PhD in Visual Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Before her time in North Carolina, Maples served in curatorial and scholarly capacities at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center; the Yale University Art Gallery; the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; the High Desert Museum; and the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.
About the New Orleans Museum of Art
The New Orleans Museum of Art is committed to uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures through the arts. With more than 40,000 works of art encompassing 5,000 years of history, NOMA and the renowned Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden offer innovative experiences for lifelong learning and interpretation. To learn more, visit noma.org.
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