Thelma Golden

Director of the Studio Museum in Harlem

Golden has devoted her career to ‘creating space’ for the expression of diverse voices, which she describes as a ‘cultural act, but also a political act’. It’s a reminder that, while strides may recently have been made towards the decolonisation of Western art institutions, this curator has been pushing for change since time immemorial (ok, the mid-1980s). As the $122m expansion of the Studio Museum in Harlem, of which she is director, moves towards completion, she has taken its activities off-site. Its residency programme is one of the artworld’s most reliable bellwethers (The New York Times calls it a ‘who’s who of the contemporary black canon’), and Golden has also helped to train a generation of black curators whose influence is now being felt across the United States. All of which means that Golden, who also serves on the boards of the Obama Foundation and LACMA, is among the cultural gatekeepers doing the most to throw open the doors.