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How I Got My Art Job: Naima Keith of California’s African American Museum on Quitting a PhD to Pursue Her Dreams | Artnet News The museum's deputy director got her start during a curatorial stint at the Hammer Museum.

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From fabricators to mummy conservators to private collection managers, the art world is full of fascinating jobs you may not have realized even existed. In artnet News’s column “My Art Job,” we delve into these enviable art-world occupations, asking insiders to share their career path and advice for others who wish to follow in their footsteps.

This week, we spoke with Naima J. Keith, deputy director for exhibitions and programs at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles and co-curator of Prospect.5 New Orleans in 2020.

Education: I’m originally from LA, but I went to Spelman, a women’s historical black college in Atlanta. That’s where I was introduced to art history. Both of my parents are collectors, so I was exposed to art at an early age, but I really discovered my own passion for art the end of my freshman year.

How I got my start in the art world: I went to UCLA for graduate school. I intended to get my Ph.D. because I thought that was the curator route. But as I was finishing my Master’s, I got a job working at the Hammer Museum on the exhibition “Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980” with curator Kellie Jones. I fell in love curating and I ended up leaving the program before I finished the Ph.D. It was just really where I wanted to be. I completed my Master’s and then left to completely devote myself to the Hammer. I was a curatorial fellow, which was paid for by the Getty grant for Pacific Standard Time. I was there for three years.


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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.

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