The Rise of Black Art Curators On A Canvas Of Salary Inequality

By Keyanna Harper 

  • 34 Black curators stepped into new roles across various art museums
  • The top 10 museum curators are pocketing over $1M annually

Early 2023 brought in change as Black curators are seizing new opportunities and infusing art spaces with vibrant, diverse perspectives. A revolution is brewing in the art world, as Black curators step boldly into areas which have long been held without their input. The 10 highest-paid museum curators are pocketing over $1 million annually. They all share one commonality as purveyors of art culture, which is they are not Black. 

Why This Matters: It’s a pivotal moment in art where there’s some distance from being diverse and inclusive. The top art curator spots are still occupied by white individuals, maintaining the fattest paychecks in the industry.  Top executives at the Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, make $2 million, $1.9 million and $1.6 million respectively, according to the New York Times. 

There are 34 Black curators who are breaking through, carving out areas, and reshaping narratives. It’s a slow burn, however a promising shift toward an artwork international that mirrors the rich tapestry of worldwide cultures. Yet, the compensation hole and illustration at the pinnacle tier remain critical problems, underscoring the need for a deeper exchange.

Recently, the New Orleans Museum of Art stirred the pot, facing backlash for appointing a non-POC person to helm its African art branch. This spotlights the urgent call for variety in those elite spaces.

What’s Next: The artwork scene is at a crossroads, teetering on a transformative era. It’s high time to shake up the present frameworks and foster areas that definitely celebrate variety, and give the same possibilities and rewards to people of color in the art space. This can hold a sharp eye on the evolving rich perspectives of the Black community and the colorful expression it provides.

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