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James Claiborne Appointed Barnes Foundation Curator of Public Programs

Philadelphia, PA, October 12, 2021—Thom Collins, Neubauer Family Executive Director and President of the Barnes Foundation, today announced the appointment of James Claiborne as the Barnes’s new Curator of Public Programs. A program and visual arts curator and educator with over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit cultural sector, Claiborne most recently served as the Public Director of Programming at the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP). He began his post at the Barnes in September.

At AAMP, Claiborne shaped the vision and strategy for inclusive cultural programming that supported the institution’s mission, and he was responsible for developing new programs that expanded the museum’s role as a center of creative inquiry.

Prior his tenure at AAMP, which spanned from 2015 through 2021, Claiborne served as the Community Engagement Manager for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Editor for Visit Philadelphia’s Philly 360 campaign, and Program Manager at First Person Arts. He also recently served as an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, teaching audience development in the arts, with a focus on program creation, community engagement, and marketing.

“To say I am delighted to welcome James to the Barnes would be an understatement,” says Collins. “James is a widely respected creative and strategic thinker with deep roots in Philadelphia’s artistic community. A key player in the region’s cultural and civic landscape, James’s passion for arts and culture is palpable, and his strong relationships with performers, artists, and colleagues speak volumes about his professionalism and leadership. This background, paired with his impressive professional experience, makes him well suited to lead and shape the Barnes’s programming efforts as we enter the institution’s second century.”

As Curator of Public Programs, Claiborne will play a leading role in building the Barnes’s relationship with artistic and programmatic partners in the Philadelphia region and beyond. He will be responsible for developing, implementing, and assessing a wide variety of public programs aligned with the Barnes’s progressive artistic, educational, and social missions. Collaborating across departments, he will cultivate new ways for both artistic partners and program attendees to have meaningful and long-lasting relationships with the Barnes.

“I am thrilled to join the Barnes Foundation, with its progressive history, dedication to education, and commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice,” says Claiborne. “With the Barnes’s educational mission, the legendary art collection, and an exhibition program that is fresh and innovative, there is a wealth of incredible programming opportunities to explore. I look forward to working with my Barnes colleagues to open new doors to creative collaborations and develop an ever-deepening public engagement with the institution.”

Claiborne currently serves on the board of directors for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. He has also served as a board member, advisory board member, or consultant for several organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region, including Artblog, Art Sanctuary, FringeArts, Mural Arts Philadelphia, and Philly Youth Poetry Movement. As an independent curator, James has presented exhibitions by a wide range of artists and groups, including Deborah Willis, James Dupree, Amber Art and Design, Richard J. Watson, Ruth Naomi Floyd, and Barkley L. Hendricks.


The Barnes Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. The Barnes collection is displayed in ensembles that integrate art and objects from across cultures and time periods, overturning traditional hierarchies and revealing universal elements of human expression. Home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern paintings—including the largest groups of paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne in existence—the Barnes brings together renowned canvases by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent van Gogh, alongside African, Asian, ancient, and medieval art as well as metalwork, furniture, and decorative art.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” A visionary collector and pioneering educator, Dr. Barnes was also a fierce advocate for the civil rights of African Americans, women, and the economically marginalized. Committed to racial equality and social justice, he established a scholarship program to support young Black artists, writers, and musicians who wanted to further their education. Dr. Barnes was deeply interested in African American culture and became actively involved in the Harlem Renaissance, during which he collaborated with philosopher Alain Locke and Charles S. Johnson, the scholar and activist, to promote awareness of the artistic value of African art.

Since moving to Philadelphia in 2012, the Barnes Foundation has expanded its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice, teaching visual literacy in groundbreaking ways; investing in original scholarship relating to its collection; and enhancing accessibility throughout every facet of its program. Hours and ticket prices are listed on our website.


Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications
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