Thom Collins, Neubauer Family Executive Director and President of the Barnes Foundation, today announced the appointment of James Claiborne as the Barnes’s new Curator of Public Programs. A program and visual arts curator and educator with over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit cultural sector, Claiborne most recently served as the Public Director of Programming at the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP). He began his post at the Barnes in September. 

At AAMP, Claiborne shaped the vision and strategy for inclusive cultural programming that supported the institution’s mission, and he was responsible for developing new programs that expanded the museum’s role as a center of creative inquiry.

Prior his tenure at AAMP, which spanned from 2015 through 2021, Claiborne served as the Community Engagement Manager for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Editor for Visit Philadelphia’s Philly 360 campaign, and Program Manager at First Person Arts. He also recently served as an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, teaching audience development in the arts, with a focus on program creation, community engagement, and marketing.

“To say I am delighted to welcome James to the Barnes would be an understatement,” says Collins. “James is a widely respected creative and strategic thinker with deep roots in Philadelphia’s artistic community. A key player in the region’s cultural and civic landscape, James’s passion for arts and culture is palpable, and his strong relationships with performers, artists, and colleagues speak volumes about his professionalism and leadership. This background, paired with his impressive professional experience, makes him well suited to lead and shape the Barnes’s programming efforts as we enter the institution’s second century.”

As Curator of Public Programs, Claiborne will play a leading role in building the Barnes’s relationship with artistic and programmatic partners in the Philadelphia region and beyond. He will be responsible for developing, implementing, and assessing a wide variety of public programs aligned with the Barnes’s progressive artistic, educational, and social missions. Collaborating across departments, he will cultivate new ways for both artistic partners and program attendees to have meaningful and long-lasting relationships with the Barnes.

“I am thrilled to join the Barnes Foundation, with its progressive history, dedication to education, and commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice,” says Claiborne. “With the Barnes’s educational mission, the legendary art collection, and an exhibition program that is fresh and innovative, there is a wealth of incredible programming opportunities to explore. I look forward to working with my Barnes colleagues to open new doors to creative collaborations and develop an ever-deepening public engagement with the institution.”

Claiborne currently serves on the board of directors for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. He has also served as a board member, advisory board member, or consultant for several organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region, including Artblog, Art Sanctuary, FringeArts, Mural Arts Philadelphia, and Philly Youth Poetry Movement. As an independent curator, James has presented exhibitions by a wide range of artists and groups, including Deborah Willis, James Dupree, Amber Art and Design, Richard J. Watson, Ruth Naomi Floyd, and Barkley L. Hendricks

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