The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) has just announced Franklin Sirmans as its new director. He will assume his new post on October 15, giving him ample time to settle in before the hoards descend for Art Basel Miami Beach in December. Sirmans has been department head and curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since 2010, and was artistic director of last year’s Prospect New Orleans biennial.
Sirman is no stranger to Atlanta. He is the 2007 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize, given by the High Museum and was the 2013 juror for the Working Artist Project winners at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (selecting Fahamu Pecou, E.K. Huckaby and Scott Ingram). And his mother lives here.
Prior to LACMA, Sirmans was curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston and before that a curatorial advisor at MoMA PS1 and a lecturer at Princeton University and Maryland Institute College of Art.
At LACMA, he curated such exhibition as “Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada,” “Fútbol: The Beautiful Game,” and major surveys of Glenn Ligon and Blinky Palermo. For the Menil, he organized the seminal exhibition “NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith,” which traveled to MoMA PS1 and the Miami Art Museum (now the Pérez).
Earlier exhibitions include the 2005 “Basquiat” show at the Brooklyn Museum (it traveled to L.A. MOCA and the Houston MFA) and “One Planet Under a Groove: Contemporary Art and Hip Hop,” which in 2001-03 appeared at the Bronx Museum of Art, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
In a press statement, Sirmans said: “I have long admired [PAMM’s] history and was proud to have the Neohoodoo exhibition presented amidst the program. My family shares my enthusiasm for the city. Miami possesses unparalleled diversity and energy, qualities which define contemporary art and PAMM’s mission.”
Born in New York City, Sirmans was raised in Harlem and upstate New York. He earned English and art history degrees from Wesleyan University, where he wrote his honors thesis on Basquiat.
He replaces Thomas Collins, who is now executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.