In July 2021, Ngaire Blankenberg took on the role of director at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C.
In her 30+ year career, Blankenberg has been as a storyteller (first as a television producer and director and then as a museum interpretive planner) and a strategic cultural consultant, working with television, museum consulting and exhibition design companies. She has worked with 55 museum and cultural projects in 35 cities and towns on 5 continents.
She was with museum and culture consulting company Lord Cultural Resources for 12 years, where she was Director, Europe for the last five. She was also Head of Content and Planning at leading Dutch museum design firm Kossmanndejong.
“The National Museum of African Art embodies the Smithsonian’s mission to foster understanding, inspire dialogue and bring people together irrespective of language, culture or border,” said Lonnie Bunch, the Secretary of the Smithsonian, on her appointment. “Ngaire’s leadership and experience will be invaluable in using the museum’s unparalleled collections and scholarship of African Art to further our reach, diversify our audiences and have a more profound impact on the nation and world.”
“Museums are institutions that carry a lot of systemic baggage from their colonial origins, but they are vital public spaces to reconsider how we connect and contend with one another and the planet, and where we can redefine, heal and reconcile,” Blankenberg added.
“The National Museum of African Art sits physically in a city with one of the biggest populations of African peoples in the U.S. Digitally it reaches far into the diaspora. I am so grateful for the trust being placed in me to continue to care for, build, interpret and share NMAfA’s fantastic collection, particularly in this new era of U.S.-African relations.”