Thelma Golden and President Frances Bronet in Conversation


Thelma Golden and President Frances Bronet in Conversation

A dynamic conversation between the leaders of two vibrant New York City institutions - The Studio Museum in Harlem and Pratt Institute.

Both The Studio Museum and Pratt value access to artists and their work. We hope that you will take the time to view the portfolios of Pratt’s graduating students at

About Thelma Golden

Thelma Golden is Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual art by artists of African descent. Golden began her career as a Studio Museum intern in 1987. In 1988, she joined the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she launched her influential curatorial practice. Over a decade at the Whitney, she organized numerous groundbreaking exhibitions, including Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in American Art, in 1994. She was also a member of the curatorial team for the 1993 Biennial.

In 2000, Golden returned to the Studio Museum as Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs, working closely with Director Lowery Stokes Sims. She succeeded Dr. Sims as Director in 2005. Under her leadership, the Studio Museum has gained increased renown as a global leader in the exhibition of contemporary art, a center for innovative education, and a cultural anchor in the Harlem community. Golden’s curatorial vision has cemented the Museum as “one of New York City’s most consistently stimulating and innovative art institutions,” according to Holland Cotter of the New York Times. Her tenure as Director has been characterized by a deep commitment to planning for the Museum’s future. In 2015, the Studio Museum announced plans to create a new facility, designed by Adjaye Associates in conjunction with Cooper Robertson, on its current site in Harlem. The new building will be the Studio Museum’s first purpose-built facility since its founding in 1968.

Golden holds a B.A. in Art History and African American Studies from Smith College. She has received honorary doctorates from the City College of New York (2009), San Francisco Art Institute (2008), Smith College (2004), and Moore College of Art and Design (2003). In 2010, she was awarded a Barnard Medal of Distinction from Barnard College. That same year, President Barack Obama appointed Golden to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, on which she served from 2010–2016. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Barack Obama Foundation and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is a 2008 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, and in 2016 received the Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. In 2015, she was appointed as a Ford Foundation Art of Change Visiting Fellow. Golden is a recognized authority in contemporary art by artists of African descent and an active lecturer and panelist speaking about contemporary art and culture at national and international institutions. Her 2009 TED Talk, “How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change,” examines how contemporary artists continue to shape dialogue about race, culture, and community.

About Frances Bronet

Frances Bronet became Pratt Institute’s 12th president on January 2, 2018. Before coming to Pratt, Bronet, a distinguished educator and leader at the forefront of interdisciplinary learning, served as senior vice president and provost at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago. Previously, she served as acting provost at the University of Oregon; before that she was the dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (now the College of Design). Bronet began her academic career as a faculty member in the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She also held positions of associate dean of architecture, professor of architecture, and acting dean of the School. Bronet is past president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), as well as past chancellor for the ACSA College of Distinguished Professors. She is the co-founder of the ACSA Women’s Leadership Council.

For more than two decades, Bronet has been developing and publishing work on multidisciplinary design curricula connecting architecture, engineering, science, technology and society (humanities and social sciences), dance, and fine and electronic arts. She has received extensive funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities/Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (NEH/FIPSE) for work on new pedagogical models using design for technical and/or interdisciplinary learning. Selected publications include: “Quilting Space: Alternative Models for Architectural and Construction Practice,” in Research in Science and Technology Studies: Gender and Work; “Space-in-the-Making,”
in Geographies of Dance; “Teaching the Design: Feminist Practice,” with Linda Layne, anthropologist, in Feminist Technologies; and “Product Design and Innovation: The Evolution of an Interdisciplinary Design Curriculum,” in International Journal for Engineering Education (with Gary Gabriele, et al).

Bronet installed the NEA-funded performance “Don’t Leave Me” with acclaimed choreographer Alito Alessi, his award-winning mixed-abilities company DanceAbility, University of Oregon faculty and dancers, and renowned Knight Professor and electronic musician Jeff Stolet—in a set of choreographed action installations examining the relationship between space and movement for the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Before that, Bronet’s series of funded interactive full-scale architecture, construction, and dance performance/installations (“Beating a Path” and “SpillOut”) with the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company received critical acclaim. Her first-year design studios have collaborated with Doug Varone, Terry Creach, Emmy Award-winner Branda Miller, the Berkshire Ballet, MacArthur recipient Elizabeth Streb, and the Sandra Burton Dance Company for these “Design in Movement” projects.

Bronet has been named an Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Distinguished Professor and a DesignIntelligence Most Admired Educator (twice). She is a recipient of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching New York Professor of the Year and the William H. Wiley Distinguished Professor Award for excellence in teaching, research, service, and contributions to the university and community.

Since joining Pratt, Bronet has earned many notable accolades, including being named to the City & State “2018 Brooklyn Power 50,” “2019 Brooklyn Power 100,” “2019 New York Women’s Power 100,” and “2020 New York Women’s Power 100” lists, and was honored with Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation’s Oculus Award (2019) for academic leadership supporting scholarship on women in architecture and engineering. She has been profiled in Design Milk, The Architect’s Newspaper, Interior Design, Madame Architect, and authored an op-ed in Crain’s New York Business, and co-authored an opinion piece in Gotham Gazette. Bronet has been interviewed on public radio’s The Brian Lehrer Show, the Peabody Award-winning Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, Person Place Thing with Randy Cohen, and Joanne Wilson’s Gotham Gal podcast and is asked to present in international and national fora. 

As a thought leader, Bronet has been an invited speaker/panelist/contributor at City & State New York’s 2019 Education Summit, the UN Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization, IDC Foundation Panel on Innovation at the Intersection of Building Design and Construction (2019), Municipal Art Society, and the Association for a Better New York Young Professionals (2019).

Bronet holds architecture and engineering professional degrees from McGill University; she received her graduate degree from Columbia University. She was licensed by the Quebec Ordre des Architectes, and has practiced in multiple award-winning offices in New York and Canada, including her own in Montreal.

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