In March, we will open an exhibition on our fourth continent. There are so many stories we need to tell. But I had to also develop my own story about why this meant something to me. I had to be able to explain to existing and potential constituents that the museum was someplace that mattered and that it could make a difference—and to be able to say that from a personal perspective. That’s the way I advocate. What is fundraising but advocacy? When you’re selling a mission and an idea, that’s advocacy. And the more personal I made it the more successful I was.
How do you think the museum has benefitted from your curious nature?
I’m as smart as the average museum-goer, and if I don’t understand what the exhibit is about then I don’t want to do it. If [the curator] can’t explain it to me, then how is the general public going to understand? Our mission fundamentally shouldn’t be about the objects; it should be educating people about what they mean and why they are made and who made them. What was the context for their creation? It’s one of the reasons when you go to the Museum for African Art you don’t just see what I call “art under the glass.” Our exhibits tell stories that educate.