December 11, 2023
BMA Announces Appointment of Kevin Tervala as Chief Curator
Museum also appoints Antoinette Roberts as Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art
BALTIMORE, MD (December 11, 2023)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced today that Kevin Tervala has been appointed the museum’s Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator, following a nine-month search process. Tervala, a scholar of African art and material culture, has served as the BMA’s Interim Chief Curator since February 2023, and previously held the role of Department Head for the Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands (AAAPI) since 2017. Tervala has played a critical leadership role at the BMA, supporting the museum’s work to develop a new collections roadmap, to enhance its policies on repatriation and ethical collections growth and management, to engage more directly with college and university partners, and to diversify the voices and experiences represented in the museum’s galleries. He is responsible for reconceptualizing the installation of the BMA’s African art collection to emphasize historical and socio-political narratives and a broad range of artistic expression—including modern and contemporary artworks—as well as for the creation of the first collection gallery dedicated to Oceanic art at the museum. Among his numerous exhibitions are The Matter of Bark Cloth (2023); A Perfect Power: Motherhood and African Art (2020); and Kuba: Fabric of an Empire (2019).
As Chief Curator, Tervala will work closely with Asma Naeem, the BMA’s recently appointed Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director, to drive the BMA’s curatorial objectives, strategies, and approaches, with emphases on artistic excellence, diversity, and community engagement. In particular, under Naeem’s leadership, the BMA is focused on presenting art from across cultures and geographies and engaging with modalities of knowledge and understanding that extend beyond European and American perspectives. Tervala is committed to presenting a wide spectrum of global human experience and expanding beyond commonly known art histories. At the same time, the BMA is working to forge new and stronger relationships with its community, by establishing partnerships with local artists, cultural and community leaders, and academic institutions. Tervala is a Baltimore native and his prior work at the BMA has established him as a collaborative and open partner and resource—well positioning him, along with Naeem, to continue to ground the BMA in the social and cultural fabric of Baltimore and the surrounding region. Tervala will begin in his new role immediately.
“Kevin has played an essential part in shaping the BMA’s curatorial direction over the past several years, bringing thoughtful perspective to the presentation of our AAAPI holdings as well as to our ongoing and evolving work to diversify the museum’s broader collection and presentations. As the Interim Chief Curator, he has brought new and exciting vision and been an active supporter to our museum team, creating pathways for colleagues to share their distinct knowledge and be recognized for their important work,” said Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “Following a long, robust search, we could think of no better person to help lead us into the BMA’s future. His knowledge and experience, especially within non-western art and culture, as well as his commitment to partnership are critical to our success. The BMA’s Board of Trustees, senior leadership team, and I look forward to working with Kevin as we continue to bring innovative, timely, and expansive exhibitions and programs to our community.”
The BMA also announced today the appointment of Antoinette Roberts as Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. Roberts joins the BMA from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, where she holds the role of Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Photography. She is currently supporting curatorial work in the development of MoMA’s forthcoming exhibition LaToya Ruby Frazier: Monuments of Solidarity. At the BMA, Roberts will work closely with Jessica Bell Brown, the BMA’s Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art, on research, exhibitions development, and collections growth and management. Her appointment represents the BMA’s commitment to growing its contemporary art team with scholars who have particular expertise in global artistic practices and a keen sense of important emerging voices. She will begin in her new role in February 2024.
“Annie brings to our team an acumen for historical thinking shaped by the contemporary moment,” said Jessica Bell Brown, BMA Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art. “She is an emerging curatorial mind that will bring a fresh perspective to our collection. With her hire we look forward to continuing to nurture the next generation of talent at the BMA.”
Kevin Tervala holds a Ph.D. in African Studies from Harvard University and a B.A in art history from the University of Maryland, College Park. He arrived at the BMA in 2015 as Curatorial Fellow for the Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands (AAAPI) and assumed the positions of Associate Curator of African and Oceanic Art and Department Head of AAAPI in 2017 and Interim Chief Curator in 2023. Prior to joining the BMA, Tervala was a researcher, whose work on the relationship between climate change, colonialism, and artmaking in Kenya was supported by grants and fellowships from Harvard and the American Museum of Natural History, among others. He has also worked as a curatorial assistant for projects at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery for African and African American Art and co-curated Black History/Art History, a multi-year performance and lecture series in the Boston area. Tervala strongly believes in educating the next generation of art scholars and enthusiasts and has taught African studies, art history, and museum studies to undergraduate and graduate students at Georgetown University, George Mason University, Hunter College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland, College Park.
Antoinette Roberts holds a Master of Philosophy in History of Art from the University of Cambridge, where she completed the dissertation titled, “Carrie Mae Weems and the Reterritorialization of the Home,” as well as a B.A in the History of Art and African American Studies from Yale University. In addition to her current role at MoMA, Roberts served as Curatorial Assistant at The Women’s Art Collection at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, the largest collection of modern and contemporary art by women in Europe. She has held fellowships and internships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale Center for British Art, and the Jewish Museum in New York.
About the Baltimore Museum of Art
Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.