The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) has announced the appointment of Lauren Applebaum as curator of American Art. Applebaum previously worked at the NCMA on the 2018 exhibition The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art as a GSK Curatorial Fellow in American Art. She will start her position Monday, May 3. She will be responsible for researching and expanding the NCMA’s American art holdings and as part of the curatorial team will strive to have the collection reflect multiple perspectives and varying dimensions of diversity. In addition she will organize special exhibitions focused on a range of subjects and themes in American art.
“We’re thrilled to have Lauren return to the NCMA,” said Valerie Hillings, museum director. “Lauren’s expertise in American art, especially her attention to the connection between art and craft, will enrich the NCMA’s approach to its collection and program. We look forward to her contributions as we continue to showcase local, national, and international artists.”
Applebaum joins the Museum from the Toledo Museum of Art, where she has been the associate curator of American art. In this position she was responsible for a range of exhibitions, including Radical Tradition: American Quilts and Social Change, and brought important acquisitions to the TMA’s collection, including works by Bisa Butler and a major collection of objects by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, and others from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.
“I am very excited to return to the NCMA and to be a part of this outstanding and ambitious team,” said Applebaum. “I’m invested in contributing to an interpretive strategy that broadens art historical narratives and categorizations, and questions what American art is today. This is an incredible opportunity to engage and expand upon the NCMA’s important collection of historical American art in ways that resonate with many of the debates that animate our contemporary culture.”
Applebaum came to the TMA in 2018 as the Brian P. Kennedy Museum Leadership Fellow, a role that aimed to cultivate the next generation of museum leaders by providing direct experience in strategic planning, curatorial and program leadership, board engagement, donor stewardship, financial and resource management, policy development, and community engagement. Prior to accepting this position, she was the GSK Curatorial Fellow in American Art at the NCMA.
Applebaum received her B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, her M.A. in art history at Hunter College of the City University of New York, and her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research concentrates on the visual and material culture of North America from the colonial period to the present, with a particular focus on the intersections of art and craft with histories of technology and communication practices. Her work has been supported by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Huntington Library, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.