Curating Native American Art with Darienne Turner, Assistant Curator of Indigenous Art of the Americas, Baltimore Museum of Art


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In 2020 the Baltimore Museum of Art appointed their first native curator, Darienne Turner, Assistant Curator of Indigenous Art of the Americas. Her hire signaled a commitment by the museum to promote and interpret the art of indigenous peoples of the Americas. A member of the Yurok Tribe of California, Darienne is one of the few native curators of native art in U.S. museums. In our conversation, she discusses her role and the challenges in presenting and collecting native art in an institutional context and her responsibility to tell the stories of native peoples thoughtfully and reverently.
When we spoke with Darienne in December 2020, the museum was partially closed. The only spaces open to the public were the gift shop and a portion of the first floor where her first exhibition at the museum, Stripes, and Stars: Reclaiming Lakota Independence (October 11, 2020 — March 28, 2021), was installed. The exhibition presented a small selection of objects from the museum's collection produced by the Lakota peoples of South Dakota. Confined to reservations by the late 19th century, the makers of these objects incorporated the American flag in their detailed beadwork. On caps and vests worn by children, boots, pouches, and a monumental hood for a horse, these emblems of the flag served as a talisman and a way for the Lakota youth to participate in cultural activities which had previously been outlawed. Her exhibition was the first in what we hope will be many that celebrate the achievement of native makers of the Americas.
The Baltimore Museum of Art is one of the leading U.S. encyclopedic museums committed to collecting and promoting inclusivity. Being a majority-minority city, Baltimore and the museum is a model for the future of U.S. culture and institutions.
Learn more about the museum and her exhibition here:
Exhibition Installation Video

Talk with Darienne Turner and Sheldon Raymore, member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation and multidisciplinary artist and performer, on the occasion of the exhibition Stripes and Stars: Reclaiming Lakota Independence at the BMA.
About Darienne:
Darienne is the Assistant Curator of Indigenous Art of the Americas at the Baltimore Museum of Art, is a member of the Yurok Tribe of California, and has taught in MICA's Graphic Design Department since 2017. She earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and an M.A. in Design History & Material Culture from the Bard Graduate Center. She is the curator of Stripes and Stars: Reclaiming Lakota Independence (2020) and has contributed to exhibitions at the Bard Graduate Center, Walters Art Museum, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and Yellowstone National Park. Her essay "Terrestrial Gateways to the Divine" was featured in the Ex Voto: Agents of Faith exhibition catalog, named one of the Best Art Books of 2018 by the New York Times.
Episode recorded on December 16, 2020.

22 episodes