First published: Fall 2000
On October 13, 1999, New York's Museum of American Folk Art celebrated a long-awaited move to 53rd Street (right next to the Museum of Modern Art) with the 'ground breaking' for the institution's new headquarters, which will open officially in 2001. The new space will house MAFA's Contemporary Center, which will focus exclusively on contemporary folk art – headed by Brooke Anderson.
Well known and respected for her directorial and curatorial work at Winston-Salem State University's Diggs Gallery, in North Carolina, Anderson has been on the job since the early summer of 1999, developing current and future projects. I met with her in a busy coffee shop near Lincoln Center to discuss her past experience, her current challenges, and her hopes for the Contemporary Center's future role in the development of the field of folk/outsider/self-taught art.
Jenifer Borum: How did your career in museums unfold?
Brooke Anderson: Well, I interned and worked briefly as an assistant at the Cavin Morris Gallery, and I interned at NYU's Grey Art Gallery. At the Grey I did a little of everything – educational and curatorial work, as well as sitting at the front desk. After I graduated from NYU, I traveled to Poland to research Polish folk art, and came back to begin a job search. I saw a job listing for the position of inaugural director for a new museum – the Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina – that focused on African-American art and included teaching responsibilities, and I applied. Of all the positions I applied for, the Diggs was the most appealing. I was able to be a director, but also a curator and professor.