Foundation series

City Life Org – The Luce Foundation Announces Year-Long Conversation Series to Celebrate 40 Years of Support for American Art

The facade of the New-York Historical Society from Central Park West. Photo: John Wallen

The Henry Luce Foundation will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its seminal American Art Program with a year-long series of virtual conversations about American art and museums, to be hosted by the New-York Historical Society.

Since its inception in 1982, the Foundation’s American Art Program has awarded more than 1,400 grants, totaling more than $215,000,000, to 500 museums in all fifty states and internationally. The program continues to award approximately $7,000,000 in grants each year for innovative museum projects in the visual arts in the United States, including Native American art. Through this work, we seek to advance the role of the visual arts in an open and equitable society, and the potential of museums to serve as public forums for art-centered conversations that celebrate creativity, explore difference, and seek common ground.

The Henry Luce Foundation Conversations on American Art and Museums The series will consist of twelve one-hour virtual programs over the course of a year, starting in September 2022. The main moderators on the ground are all directors or project managers who have been supported by Luce grants. Each moderator, in turn, invited conversation partners to join them, selecting people committed to best practices through which they move the field in productive new directions and offer important critical insights. Conversation topics will include: cutting-edge work and ideas in the areas of African American, Asian American, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ representation; significant changes in the understanding and presentation of crafts, aberrant art and the work of artists with disabilities; and climate-focused collaborations with artists.

Deliberately forward-looking rather than retrospective, the anniversary program will explore what the best futures of American art and museums might look like. This framework aligns with the efforts of the American Art Program to empower museums and arts organizations to reconsider accepted histories, elevate the voices and experiences of underrepresented artists and cultures, and to welcome various collaborators and communities in the dialogue.

In order of appearance, the moderators of the program will be:

  • Rick West (Cheyenne), former president and CEO of the Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles
  • Christopher BedfordHelen and Charles Schwab Director, SFMoMA
  • Richard Astedirector and CEO, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio
  • Kelly JonesChair of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and Hans Hofmann Professor of Modern Art, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University
  • Catherine MorrisSenior Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum
  • Julie DeckerDirector and CEO, Anchorage Museum, Alaska
  • Karen KramerStuart W. and Elizabeth F. Pratt Curator of Native American and Oceanic Art and Culture, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
  • E. Carmen RamosChief Curator and Curatorial Officer, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Glenn AdamsonIndependent curator and writer
  • Melissa HoCurator of 20th Century Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
  • Lacy SchutzExecutive Director, Shaker Museum, Chatham, NY
  • Betsy BradleyDirector, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS

Conversation participants will include: Gonzalo CasalsSenior Fellow and Policy Researcher for Arts and Culture, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Bridget R. CooksAssociate Professor, African American Studies and Art History, University of California, Irvine; Katy SiegelResearch Director, Special Program Initiatives, SFMoMA; Cameron Shawexecutive director, California African American Museum; Yellow Quick-to-See Smith, Artist; and Seph Rodneyart critic and writer.

The first session on September 9 will focus on how museums of Native American art and culture are leading the reimagining of art museum missions and practices in the 21st century. Moderator Rick West will be joined in the conversation by Kevin Goverundersecretary for museums and culture at the Smithsonian Institution, and Amy ScottExecutive Vice President of Research and Interpretation and Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator of Visual Arts at Autry Museum.

Future conversations include:

  • October 14, 2022: A larger purpose: Expanding the stories
  • November 11, 2022: (De-)coding queer identity in American art museums today
  • December 9, 2022: Black Presence and Museum of American Art
  • January 13, 2023: Access, outliers and disability
  • February 10, 2023: Man/Nature: the paths from art to the environment

See the full program of events

About the Henry Luce Foundation
The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, training new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, co-founder and editor of Time, Inc., The Luce Foundation pursues its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education , religion and theology, art , and public policy. For more information, visit

About the New York Historical Society
Discover 400 years of history through groundbreaking exhibits, immersive films, and thought-provoking conversations between renowned historians and public figures at the New-York Historical Society, New York’s premier museum. A great destination for history since 1804, the Patricia D. Klingenstein Museum and Library conveys the stories of the diverse populations of the city and country, expanding our understanding of who we are as Americans and how we have become. Always up to the challenge of bringing little or unknown stories to light, New-York Historical will soon inaugurate a new annex housing its Academy for American Democracy as well as the American LGBTQ+ Museum. These latest efforts to help shape the future by documenting the past join New York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Women’s History Center. Digital exhibitions, applications and our For the ages podcast allow visitors from around the world to dive deeper into the story. Connect with us at or @nyhistory on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, YouTube and Tumblr.