Curator Joy Bivins Is Named New Director of the Schomburg Center

Joy Bivins, who joined the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem final 12 months, has been named director of the middle.

Bivins joined the Schomburg — a division of the New York Public Library and a number one repository for archival supplies associated to African, African diaspora and African American life, historical past and tradition — in 2020 as an affiliate director of collections and analysis companies. Before that, she had served as the chief curator of the International African American Museum, in Charleston, S.C., and the director of curatorial affairs at the Chicago History Museum.

“The skill set that Joy has is absolutely critical for the moment that we are in,” mentioned William Kelly, the public library’s Andrew W. Mellon director of the analysis libraries. “She has been such a caring, inspirational leader over the last extremely challenging year.”

The Schomburg’s earlier director, Kevin Young, a poet and editor, left when the Smithsonian named him the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bivins was chosen after what the New York Public Library described as “an exhaustive national search.” She will start serving as director on June 21, turning into the first girl to run the middle since Jean Blackwell Hutson, who served as its chief from 1948 to 1980.

The Schomburg Center — named for Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, a Puerto Rican-born Black scholar whose private library was purchased by the middle in 1926 — was named a nationwide historic landmark in 2017. It holds over 11 million gadgets together with books, manuscripts, images and the private archives and papers of figures like Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Sonny Rollins, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Ann Petry and Malcolm X.

Among her first duties, Bivins mentioned, will likely be supervising the middle’s transition again to prepandemic hours. Now, its studying rooms and its galleries — exhibiting the exhibits “Traveling While Black: A Century of Pleasure & Pain & Pilgrimage” and “Subversion & The Art of Slavery Abolition” — are open two days every week by appointment.

Bivins says she additionally desires so as to add new gadgets from locations like the Caribbean and Latin America to the middle’s assortment in order that it extra intently displays the range of the African diaspora, and to make these supplies extra accessible to a wider array of folks.

Her appointment comes at an vital time for the Schomburg: Bivins says she believes the middle now has a “unique” alternative to facilitate dialog about the previous 12 months — together with about the Black Lives Matter motion — partly by offering historic context for newer occasions.

“Our history is about documenting the histories of Black peoples, the cultures of Black peoples,” she mentioned. “It’s a time for our collections to shine, for the work scholars have done here to really be highlighted.”