Unlike many peer institutions nationally, our Museum was founded with the ethos of collecting and presenting art of global cultures. A leading example is our extraordinary Arts of Global Africa collection. As early as the turn of the 20th century, we have been committed to collecting and presenting artwork from the vast, complex continent.

In fact, the Museum’s founder himself, John Cotton Dana, made two collecting trips to North Africa in 1924 and again in 1929. During his travels, which were extremely arduous in the day, Dana ventured halfway around the world to build the nucleus of what would become our internationally recognized African textile holdings. The Museum was a pioneer in exhibiting African art with groundbreaking shows in 1926 and in 1928.

Since those early times, the collection has grown to comprise an impressive scope of African art, visual culture and its diaspora over centuries. The thematic installation in our flagship gallery, the first one that visitors encounter upon entering the Museum, celebrates ancient objects alongside contemporary examples.

In January, we took our latest step to advance the stewardship of the Museum’s unmatched treasures from Africa and by artists of African heritage. Welcome Henone K. Girma, Associate Curator, Arts of Global Africa. Or rather, welcome back, Henone!

Henone K. Girma Associate Curator, Arts of Global Africa

From 2015 to 2017, Henone was the Andrew W. Mellon Research Associate at the Museum and contributed to the comprehensive publication, The Newark Museum Collection: Arts of Global Africa. With this deep knowledge of our African collection and her subsequent experiences, Henone represents the kind of multidimensional talent that will enrich our collection strategy and community relevance. When our Deputy Director of Collections and Curatorial Strategies, Catherine Evans, first met Henone at the 2019 Black Portraiture(s) Conference held at NYU, she told me this is “someone we need to get to know better!”

Catherine’s enthusiasm was ignited in part by the nontraditional path Henone took on her journey to become a curator—beginning with The Africa Center in Harlem, where she served as Programs Manager in a wide range of roles. In addition, she has worked with Art in FLUX Harlem, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, and as the Associate Curator for ReSignifications—an exhibition organized by NYU Florence as part of the Manifesta 12 art biennial in Palermo, Italy. Her broad experience will certainly be an asset for us and our visitors.

Since joining The Newark Museum of Art, Henone has been concentrating on the next iteration of our Global Contemporary space, following the current Saya Woolfalk installation. She has jumped right into several cross functional teams that are exploring ways to bring rarely told stories to the Ballantine House when it reopens in 2023. Henone is also part of the team leading the reinterpretive work underway for our 18th- and 19th-century America galleries. And of course, she is thinking about introducing new works into the Arts of Global Africa Gallery on our first floor.

Henone sums up her vision this way: “My goal is to create dynamic modes of presenting the Museum’s expansive holdings of arts of the complex continent I come from to engage visitors from Newark and beyond.”

Looking forward to your contributions, Henone! Again, welcome aboard.

Linda C. Harrison
Director and CEO
The Newark Museum of Art