Franklin Sirmans to Head Perez Museum

Franklin Sirmans, Franklin Sirmans, Terri and Michael Smooke Curator and Department Head, Contemporary Art. Photo ©2013 Museum Associates/LACMAFranklin Sirmans is leaving his position as Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to direct the Pérez Art Museum, a major art institution in Miami.  

When he begins the new position on October 15, 2015, Sirmans, 46, will be among the miniscule number of African Americans who head mainstream museums. (The others work at much smaller institutions — Belinda Tate, executive director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Wyona Lynch-McWhite, former executive director of Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA, and currently executive director of the Fruitlands Museum and historic site in Harvard, MA.) 

IRAAA contributing writer John Welch spoke with Franklin Sirmans in June 2015, shortly after the opening of Noah Purifoy:Junk Dada, an exhibition that Sirmans co-curated at LACMA.  Welch's article on the show concludes with a summary of Sirmans' career trajectory which began at the Dia Center for the Arts, Flash Art magazine and ArtAsiaPacific.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami collects and exhibits international art of the 20th and 21st centuries and has an impressive record of showing artists of color. Nari Ward's Sun Splashed, opens at the Pérez on November 19, 2015. Past Pérez exhibitions include Edouard Duval-Carrié's Imagined Landscapes (2014) and Caribbean: Crossroads of the World (2014), originally organized by El Museo del Barrio with the Queens Museum and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Because Franklin Sirmans demonstrates that it is possible to champion artists of color and those of the larger world, without stinting on either interest, his career ascent has been rapid and steep.