Brooklyn Museum, BK Reader, Brooklyn museum curators, Stonewall Riots, Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator of Photography, Photography, Sills Family Consulting Curator, African Art, Jennifer Chi, Kristen Windmuller-Luna,Anne Pasternak, Drew Sawyer,
Kristen Windmuller-Luna (l), Drew Sawyer (r). Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum

***Updated on 3/27/18***

Kristen Windmuller-Luna will rethink the Brooklyn Museum’s extensive African art collection and organize new temporary installations; Drew Sawyer will oversee the photography collection and reimagine its role within the museum.

Kristen Windmuller-Luna (l), Drew Sawyer (r). Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum just announced the appointment of two new curators: Kristen Windmuller-Luna, a curator and historian of African arts and architecture, has been appointed the Sills Family Consulting Curator, African Art; and Drew Sawyer has been appointed the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator of Photography.

“We are thrilled to welcome Drew and Kristen to our fantastic curatorial team during this period of great momentum as we expand exhibitions, public programs and educational reach,” said Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director.

Windmuller-Luna will rethink the Brooklyn Museum’s extensive collection of African art, which is comprised of more than 6,000 objects, and organize a freshly conceived temporary installation showcasing the depth of the collection. Her focus will be to create a dialogue between the African art collection and other works within the museum’s holdings while also helping to develop educational programming.

As a curator and historian of African arts and architecture, with a specialization in the early modern period and Christian Ethiopia, her work counters myths about African civilizations and artistic production by focusing on cultural specificity, artistic diversity and global historical context. Windmuller-Luna received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Art and Archaeology from Princeton University and her B.A. in the History of Art from Yale University.

Drew Sawyer will reimagine the role of photography collection within the museum and explore ways to integrate it with other collection galleries and exhibitions.

Sawyer is currently Head of Exhibitions and the William J. and Sarah Ross Soter Associate Curator of Photography at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. He is also a co-organizer of the upcoming historical survey Art after Stonewall, 1969 to 1989 which will tour during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 2019. Sawyer holds a Ph.D. in Art History and Archaeology from Columbia University, specializing in North American art and visual culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

“Kristen’s vision for a new permanent collection installation that transforms how viewers relate to the arts of Africa is tremendously exciting for us as we near the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Museum’s pioneering exhibition of African art in 1923, ”said Deputy Director and Chief Curator Jennifer Chi. “Drew’s deep expertise in social and experimental documentary practices during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries will significantly augment our strong collection and will contribute to our history of championing contemporary artists who continue in this vein.”

*** This post was updated:

  • Drew Sawyer is a curator for Photography, not African Photography. The headline was changed to make this distinction clear.
  • Correction: The author reported the name of Kristen Windmuller-Lunas incorrectly. This has been corrected.
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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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237

  1. Great, let’s continue to have white people tell the stories of black communities that were colonized by their ancestors, whites don’t see anything wrong with this, and this is 2018 and folks wonder why we still have problems on race.

    1. Dear colonizers, What a major disappointment. – the continually oppressed, dispossessed and destroyed.

    2. I don’t know if it offers any tiny comfort at all, but this white person has a big problem with this scenario. Descendants of colonizers should not be making decisions about how African stories are told. Additionally, I am absolutely sure that there were either African or African American scholars that applied that were more than competent to hold these positions. It’s unbelievable that the Brooklyn Museum has no idea this is a problem!

      1. Just have one edit suggestion for the headline. Perhaps consider changing it to:

        Colonizers; telling the story of colonization, genocide, and slavery, through a unique lense of white privilege.

        This is completely socially irresponsible. You are curating the visual history of a marginalized group; choosing members of the oppressive group, who are not physically connected to the subjects and intergenerational trauma associated with being a black person in America is simply distasteful.

    3. Well, this white person thinks this is absolutely ridiculous! This is a huge problem, and the fact that the Brooklyn Museum didn’t even see this as an issue is unthinkable.

      1. Yes, how could they dare think to hire a white person with PHD in African Art for an African art exhibit!

        The university should of told her she can’t study african art because she is white! They should of told her to major in something else because it would be racist for her to get a job using her major!

    4. Rabiah, well said and I second that!

      When expressions like “rethink’ & ‘ reimagine” are used for a museum that displays an ‘extensive African
      art collection,’ one would think there would be at least one person of African descent involved.

      I find it completely baffling how things like this still happen. Unfortunately, I’m no longer surprised by such. #colonizers

    5. Thank you for saying it like it should be said. With this appointment they are still in the colonizing state of mind. Too bad for them. Get this settler out.

    6. Why are white people curating black history?
      This is incredibly offensive that the museum can’t even comprehend why, on so many levels how ridiculous this is? Seriously. this is an example of moving backwards. Who in the hired them? Who made that choice and why?
      I hope the museum realizes they are amplifying racism and marginalization by hiring white people to tell the story of blacks people’s art, culture, history and lived experience.

      1. White people are curating black history for the same reason black people can curate European history or Asian history- They are qualified. It’s that simple, they’ve studied it, they’ve gotten their degree, they’ve done the work. They deserve to have the jobs that they want. How can you say that you want a fair society when and also want to reserve positions for only black people and at the same time allow them to compete with white people for every other job. That makes no sense.
        Also, it’s not black history, it’s African history. Putting a black American who was born in the US and whose parents were also born in the US is essentially the same as having a white American. Being black doesn’t mean you automatically understand the African culture. Being a person who went to school and studied the culture in depth, she probably understands it better than many black Americans, I mean, she has a Ph.D in this stuff.
        You can’t call racism for everything. Jobs are about qualification. If the complaint was that they should hire an African, then maybe there would be some reason to it but really the idea that qualified people should not be hired because they are a particular color? That’s just racist.

      2. Dear Ptheman,
        There is a fair argument to be made that people with stronger ties to a particular history bring a unique authenticity to their work. It’s similar to learning a foreign language from a native speaker vs. someone who is fluent. Likewise, if you’ve got two people that are fluent, the person who learned from a native speaker will likely be better at it than someone who learned from a non-native. However, to extend the metaphor, I’m not even convinced these people are fluent.

        Your argument would have some merit if these people were, in fact, longtime students of African history. Neither of them has a degree or concentration in African studies, Sawyer is the worst of the two. He has no mention of any experience dealing with anything African. Windmuller-Luna does have some experience as “a curator and historian of African arts and architecture, with a specialization in the early modern period and Christian Ethiopia.” This is helpful, but it doesn’t qualify her to deal with all of the African works in the museum.

        Even Windmuller-Luna’s goal is problematic. “Her focus will be to create a dialogue between the African art collection and other works within the museum’s holdings.” It sounds like she is trying to legitimize African Art by placing in the canon of European art. First of all, African art should be seen within its own history before comparing it to other histories. It stands on its own. I suppose the dialogue makes some sense within her specialty of Christian Ethiopia, but it’s hardly appropriate for all of the museum’s holdings.

        There are white people who have taken African studies, but the information here suggests It just seems that a minimum amount of knowledge about Africa and its history was required for these people to get their jobs. Windmuller-Luna went to Princeton, which is an excellent school, but it doesn’t even make the top twenty for African studies. This begs the question of what they were looking for in finding people to fill these positions.

      3. Hey Joy,

        Reading comprehension isn’t your thing, huh? SHE was hired to curate African art. HE was hired to curate photography. Where do you see anything that alludes that HE was hired to curate anything to do with Africa?

        This whole thing is much ado about nothing. I guess by your rationale black people are unqualified to teach English, a “white language?” Or white people are unqualified to make peanut butter because of George Washington Carver?

        This is about humans, who are experts in their respective fields, curating the art of other humans. Period.

      4. Sure SickOfIt,

        Just kindly point me to the black curator of Jewish art, Hispanic curator of Irish art or other equivalent scenario

        Sincerely

    7. Out of the millions of People of Color in New York…they pick the two fairest people for these positions.

      1. Hey Will, could you please tell us more about the people of color who applied for this position? I’d like to look further into why these specific applicants were overlooked.

    8. Genetically Evil, smh! Unapologetically killing, stealing and destroying indigenous cultures all over the world for EVER.

      1. Okay but all Kristen is doing is elevating the existing African art collection by taking it out of storage where much of it has been sitting for years. Why does it matter what her race is? The important thing is that the art will be more prominently displayed in the museum. And just so we’re clear, can you let me know how an art curator us genetically evil, an unapologetic killer, a thief, or has somehow destroyed indigenous cultures all over the world for EVER? Thanks.

      2. “Genetically evil”???

        Let’s be blunt: it is absolutely outrageous to have hired two white persons to lead African Art (when so many talented african or africa american curators are out there).

        However, “evil” does not exist, and DNA does not have anything to do with oppression or racism.

        Read. Educate yourself. Exchange. Evolve. And please, please: do not add any more stupidity to this world: it has already too much of it.

    9. You hit the nail on the head… And they’ll look at each other in consternation, ‘….but this isn’t about race! Why do you people have to make it always about race?!!” and do it with ZERO irony, not a single trace.

      1. You do know the black people of Africa have a race that is different to the white people that took over, right?

    10. The only problem i see, is thought process in which you are thinking, instead of being ‘oh thats a good exhibition and we should go support’, you bring race in to this. It is 2018, we should be moving forward embrace each other what ever ethnicity, not taking steps in reverse in the wrong direction. Only one race out there, human race.

      1. Ok, let’s not make this about race. Let’s make this about culture. Are there no people whose cultural background would lend an additional layer to the ability of the curator/director to reach the thousands of people in the neighborhood of the Brooklyn Museum, as well as the thousands of people who visit said museum on a regular basis? It would be amazing if the director could “create a dialogue between the African art collection and other works within the museum’s holdings while also helping to develop educational programming” that includes creating a personal connection between the exhibits and the visitors. Surely there is a person whose cultural background, complemented by their strong academic and professional credentials, is qualified to hold this position.

    11. In total agreement here! That was my first thought. There are no qualified people of color who applied???
      Yes, I am white, too, and it gives me a visceral response.

    12. “When the hunter tells the lion’s story…”

      Completely tone deaf. How can an institute dedicated to arts and culture be so complicit in the systematic erasure of the culture.

    13. Thank you Rabiah! This is just another example of “BK” white hipsters doing what they do best: taking space that doesn’t belong to them. This is terrible.

      1. They feel emboldened in Brooklyn now. This is another example of what the colonizers trying their reverse privilege justification. Don’t think we don’t see the contempt for us by you settlers…

      2. Your typical of the submissive persons of color in BKLYN. We are now see what we were warned about in the early 2000’s. The colonizers feel emboldened in Brooklyn now. They’re the oppressor, privileged trying to use our history tell our story for their entertainment and enrichment. Wake up these colonizers will start looking at you as what are you doing here soon. This is so ugly and disrespectful.!!!! Would you see a black person curating a Jewish or Italian exhibit. HELL TO THE NO, and BM knows that.

    14. So you want to reject a white person’s qualification based only on their skin color. Yes not racist at all !!!
      ( o o ) rolling my eyes.

      1. When you can use your racism to hold a race down, then it’s racism. Aka, you can’t be racist to white people you dumbass white privilege asshole. (Oh and I’m white AF)

    15. “Rethink” and “Reimagine”: In other words RECOLONIZE!

      How aggravating!!
      How can an institution like the Brooklyn Museum NOT see this as an issue. Why do a certain group of people blatantly try to subdue others just because tzhey have access to Tax payer’s money, of which a lot of Africanms and African Americans in the Art have contributed to and are qualified for this position. This is sheer insult and affontery!

      THis is not only in museums. It is happening with the so-called “African Film Festivals” all over Europe (aside one in Poland and one in Berlin)
      I am an advocale of peace amongst all but as an film maker of African Origin socialized in Europe I have had a lot of issues with tons of these people running these “African Festivals” Why? Because I don’t lick their fat arses like the people at home who have no idea of their methodics do. If you refuse to worshop them like the uninformed ones, they boycott your films.
      They would offer you a UK premiere of a film which cost you close to 50 Euros to produce and this with neither an invitation nor a screening fee. They would promise to “EXPOSE” your works because they are an “African Film Festival” with no cash prizes by the way.. yeah! (despite that they are running on tax payers’ money)
      You refuse the offer, they run to Ghana and Nigeria and nestle in the bosoms of up coming young ones who are so impressed that their films are being shown in African Film festivals in the UK. (“in abroad” as they say) They host them and make them ad hoc speakers at their event. and they feel like lords in their rat arses.. (whereas their knowledge is not worth one-fiftieth of why my cleaning woman from the Ukraine knows) In the end, to spite you, they pick up one of your mentees and make them “advocate” for their festival in West Africa. (Luckily though, the mentee is awake today.)

      NOTE: I have nothing against these white kids as individuals but this systematic colonization must stop #enoughisenough
      //..and before these fucktard Saviours of Africans want to fry my arse, they should remember; my husband is white and he finds your methods equally DISGUSTING. Now, you know who is talking//

    16. For the record, as a white person I see something very, very wrong with this. This is so disappointing from the BROOKLYN museum. Incredibly poor judgement on so many levels.

    17. Do you not realize it’s racist to assume that all black people have an innate connection to Africa? Like….how can you argue that a woman who has spent at least a decade studying the history of the continent (not only through books but through field work) is less qualified to articulate the complicated transnational histories of Africa, but a black person who possibly has less experience and understanding of history is better suited to do so JUST because they’re black.

      It’s essentializing and racist to assume this, and reeks of a First World perspective of what Africa is.

  2. Why? Are y’all trolling? Or serious? This is so fucked especially in Brooklyn. Y’all know better. Sadly, I will no longer be able to visit the museum.

    1. It really sounded like satire. Like in all of the world, they pick two young, WHITE hipsters. How very Brooklyn.

      1. God, another one. Please experiment with actually reading before vilification. One was appointed curator of PHOTOGRAHY. Got it?

  3. This is absolutely despicable. Will never support this institution that is perpetuating violent white supremacy.

  4. Also, is the woman’s name Lena Windmuller-Luna or Kristen Luna-Windmuller? Because you use both in this article.

  5. Terminate them immediately and let Black people tell their own stories. You don’t even need to use someone with the qualifications- you can find any Black person off the street and give them the job- They’d be fortunate to see themsleves told in a different light.

  6. So what you’re saying is, these two will have the ability to correctly grasp the depth and cultural meaning of the antiquities that were stolen by colonizers that now sit in your museum and explain said meaning to people of color that view these exhibits from the persepective of Black people? Ok, if you say so

  7. So the director of a predominantly Sub-Saharan and West African collection studied Christian Ethiopian art and that’s the credential you need? I don’t think a Monet specialist would fly in an Italian Renaissance wing and those countries at least border! STOP THINKING AFRICA IS JUST ONE BIG MONOLITHIC THING!

  8. Seriously? Saying this as a white woman…you couldn’t find a single qualified POC to take ONE of these two positions?? To speak and be the voice for their own culture and history?? Smh

  9. Please explain how Drew Sawyer’s knowledge of 19th and 20th century North America made him the best choice for this position?

    1. He was the associate curator of photography at the Columbus Museum of Art, which makes him a pretty good fit as curator of photography for BM.

      Not sure why you’d be angry about his appointment. I think the ire on the page is all directed at the other one.

      1. DB, this article previously had named him as curator to African American photography and has since been corrected.

  10. This has got to be a joke, right? Is this a Saturday Night Live parody?? Please tell me this is a friggin joke. Two white people are going to, once again, tell the stories of black lives? What kind of trollish BS is this???

    1. Only one, not two. Sawyer’s position has nothing to do with country/region/race/anything. It’s for the photographic collection in general.

  11. Cause they know best. They are the most authentic…and understand us more than we can ever understand ourselves.

    Also love the juxtaposition of this article with the ads depicting Black/African performance. Black bodies are OK for performing the culture but are not qualified for being the ones hired to critique it, engage it, theorize it. And even if that BS that you couldn’t find any “qualified” applicants were true…

    All the while Brooklyn becomes a playground that only the wealthy and white can afford. I guess you all just love abstracting Black culture without engaging Black people.

  12. So, were these choices made to discourage African descendants here in the u.s. from wanting to visit this facility? If that was your intention, bravo. Well done.

  13. Just… why? With so many ongoing quality discussions happening around the country about representation, and then this? Why do white people continuously need to take away stories from black people? The very idea of these two being the ones to choose and procure what to display and what stories to tell is extremely upsetting.

    I find it IMPOSSIBLE to believe that The Brooklyn Museum couldn’t attract/find/locate black people for these roles. Yet again, white people telling and rewriting the stories of POC.

  14. Wasn’t there anyone with roots in Africa available for the job? Someone other than an elitist Ivy League grad? I’m all for education, but I mean… come on…

  15. This is a Slap in the Face Toward The African American Community…You mean to Tell me..Not One Black Person was Qualified for These Positions.. Utterly Completely Shameful..Jus Shameful…When you Know Better..You Do Better!!!!

  16. Soooo. . . you couldn’t find any actual black/African people to work with African art? You can count me out as a visitor. This is a damn shame!!!

  17. Nobody thought about the optics of this appointment, OR press release, OR article? So many steps where you could have seen these comments coming

  18. In fact, the African Art wing of the museum will now be called the White Perspectives gallery.

  19. What were you people thinking?? White people telling black stories again. In Brooklyn no less. Y’all can not be this dumb.

  20. The only way I could understand this is if no African Americans applied for these positions, which I seriously doubt. Shame on the Brooklyn Museum. I just hope these two do right by Africans by not sugarcoating a damn thing.

    1. Word. And they can’t even use the “but they didn’t apply” excuse (even if by some bizarre scenario that were initially true.) because for positions like this, it’s not just “Hey, if interested, apply!” It’s about an extensive search and recruitment process—which, if you’re not bringing in enough or the right pool of candidates says something about the recruitment process that needs improvement to GET them to apply.

  21. Is it… just conceivable that two accomplished scholars might have valuable insights on the merits and historical context of African art that–gasp–have nothing whatsoever to do with those scholars’ skin color? I feel like someone once said something about being judged by… what was it? I forget.

    1. But does that education merit them a discussion or say or JOB in providing perspective on a culture which is VASTLY greater than the knowledge base they could possibly posses? Based on the fields of study alone they wouldn’t fit the bill in my museum making decisions regarding African Art and Photography. I’m sorry but there are surely other position both are deserving but in this instance they have simply been placed in these positions in error and that needs to be corrected. While those who concur get to write the history books those who survived should be able to tell their stories. Sorry not Sorry. #WakandaForever

    2. No, Jaleel. Not this time. This isn’t just some history lesson they’ll be giving to daily tour groups who come to a certain room in the museum. THIS IS THE ENTIRE COLLECTION. The folks curating this wing need to be members of the Black/African Diaspora. Point, blank, PERIOD.

  22. They can take there educational accolades and shove them in the cracks of there ancestors. It’s fucking 2018. Your going to tell me you were unable to find a qualified African,Latino,or Asian individual to fill at least one of these positions…in Brooklyn. Amerik.k.ka, really. This is an embrassment….on so many levels. Representation matters. #wakandaforever

    1. Wait, so it’s fine for an Asian person to curate African art, but not a white person? Cool. Just making sure we’re being totally ridiculous here.

  23. This is a joke right? a really bad one! I guess we know who owns the museum. I won’t be visiting there, and I will make sure to tell everyone I know about this sick joke…

  24. Her expertise is on Ethiopia, where my uncle Bartolo was a prisoner of war during the second Italo-Ethiopian War under Mussolini. Uncle Bartolo should have immigrated to the U.S. with his siblings… bummer… but at least he learned to speak the Oromo and Amharic languages while he was in jail. They didn’t give any art to the prisoners, unfortunately, so I’ll need to check it out for myself next time I’m in Brooklyn

  25. Thanks for ignoring black people and allowing white people to continue being the experts

    Your consistency is much appreciated

  26. WOWWWWWWWWWWW COLONIZERS!!! How were you able to make these picks with a straight face?? Did they not see the Black Panther movie’s opening scene?? This is so gross. The ‘New Brooklyn’ agenda.

  27. I think since she has a particular focus on Christian Ethiopia we could have a huge exhibit of white missionaries within the exhibit

    1. Hey maybe you should study the history of Ethiopia before assuming that the only Christians there are white
      Since you’re probably too lazy to google: “Although Christianity existed long before the rule of King Ezana the Great of the Kingdom of Axum, the religion took a strong foothold when it was declared a state religion in 330 AD”

  28. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read all year. Was there no black person who was qualified to do this work? IN BROOKLYN? lmfao

  29. So you are saying that amongst the entire populace of the globe that you could not find a person of African descent who could tell the story of the African experience? This is incredibly deplorable.

  30. So in all of the boroughs in New York City you couldn’t find two African Americans to hire for these roles? Cue Twitter in 5.4.3.2…..

  31. I’m in Texas and even I disagree with this “exciting news”. It’s sad and continues a narrative that blacks are uncultured and uneducated. For a museum to perpetuate these thoughts and practices is a shame on the institution and the people who help fund it.

  32. Soooooo there were no black people chosen to curate black art and photography? Not one? At all? In the whole city of NY?
    Oh ok.

    1. And not just in New York. For positions of this stature, candidates would be soughtGLOBALLY, from great museums and collections in the US, Europe, around Africa, etc. With the whole world to choose from, not just NYC, they went with this.

  33. Is this a joke? This cannot be real. White people telling Black stories and overseeing how our stories are told, as they have for, oh IDK, hundreds of years since they stole us from our continent and lied about every single aspect of our being/history/majesty? Are there no Black people involved in the hiring process? I will ABSOLUTELY no longer support this museum. BOYCOTT.

  34. Are we to believe that, across the African diaspora, no qualified Black applicants exist? You all should really be disappointed with yourselves for centering and prioritizing whiteness in this way.

    1. You want them to hire people based on the color of the skin?
      Is that not racism at its finest?
      If you mean they should hire qualified Africans specifically then that makes more sense than just “black people”.

  35. Just so you know, this is trending and its about to blow up. The Brooklyn museum should really rethink their hiring practices. What a slap in the face to the African American community. I am hearing about it from Oakland which means its going to be global soon…

  36. FFS Brooklyn Museum. You really couldn’t find an African scholar to curate your African art collection in 2018? Do you want me to Google for 5 minutes and send you a list of qualified applicants? Or is this just your way of spitting in the face of every person of color in the five boroughs?

  37. Beyond f*d up. A colonizer can’t curate cultural items especially when they have been stolen.

    And before anyone attempts to respond to me I have a masters degree from the School of the Art Institute Chicago.

  38. Why does the African Art need to be integrated?? It is powerful enough to stand on it’s own merit. Would you integrate Jewish and German art together? Nope, you would not due the backlash. smdh…

  39. This was a chance to uplift and represent black communities within NYC and you choose the two whitest people you could find.

  40. Um, what? If this is real, I hope everyone associated with this decision is haunted by nightmares of Killmonger.

  41. Wow! So you mean to tell me that the most qualified person in all of Brooklyn, New York and the whole of the US to curate the African Art collection is not even a person of African descent. I’ll bet the Museum looked really, really hard to find her. (Sarcasm, in case you missed it) White privilege strikes again. This is typical colonizer behavior and reflective of the eurocentric mentality that loves the fruits of Black labor and artistry but not Black people themselves.

  42. First, great way to show diversity and to ensure those in charge are as connected to both the art and the people as possible.

    Second, is it Kristen or Lena? You changed her name from the title to the body of the article.

  43. It is difficult to believe that the museum did not have well qualified POC apply for these positions.

  44. This is disappointing and I’m certain that the museum staff could have used their better judgment upon appointing individuals.

  45. *Black Panther Museum Scene*..
    Erik Killmonger: “Now tell me about this one.”
    Museum guide: “Also from Benin, 7th century, Fula tribe I believe.”
    Erik Killmonger: “Nah.”
    Museum guide: “I beg your pardon?”
    Erik Killmonger: “It was taken by British soldiers in Benin, but it’s from Wakanda, and it’s made outta vibranium.”
    Museum guide: (confused look)
    Erik Killmonger: (Laughs) Don’t trip, imma take it off your hands for you.”
    Museum attendant: “These items are not for sale.”
    Erik Killmonger: “How do you think your Ancestors got these? You think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it like they took everything else?”

    You all should really see the film..You’d be better able to contextualize the backlash you’re getting..

  46. you people are lost. seriously wtf? two wypipo “rethinking” the exhibit?
    look at yourselves!

  47. Bullshit tired of white faces telling the history of black people. What a slap in the face. Black people should definitely boycott this colonizing BS.

  48. White people will forever be slow when it comes to anything black…you cannot tell me that a black person…two black people…couldn’t fill these positions…you cannot!!! This is absurd and I would NEVER visit here…

  49. I am ashamed of you Brooklyn Museum. As a Harlemite I have expected you to present more creative selections in your choice of curator of African art. Where is the AFRICAN CURATOR? WE HAVE MANY WHO WE WANT TO HEAR FROM AND NOT ANY MORE WHITE PEOPLE.

  50. Cultural appropriation at its finest. Doesnt matter how qualified these two white folk are….Shame on you!

  51. You should consider republishing this article as the original title and image combo is triggering people and putting undue criticism on the photography curator.

    1. Or maybe reconsider your neo- colonial hires? I think the presentation isn’t the problem here, it’s the reality that’s problematic.

      1. Sara, read the update to the article. They incorrectly associated Drew’s hire with the African art department. Drew was only hired for the photography department. Agreed on the problematic hiring in the African art department, but Drew’s hiring is unrelated.

  52. I am a white male and all I wanna do is apologize to all poc for all the lame shit white people do-what the fuck?!?! WTF?!? I can think of 25 people off the top of my head who would be a GREAT poc choice. I dont even want to make this comment that long because every space is full of white people talking and talking and talking.

  53. I’m hearing about this in Toronto Canada. I know which attraction I will NOT be visiting next time I’m in New York. Institutional racism at it’s finest. Disgusting.

  54. There muat be some mistake, surely.

    Perhaps they don’t mean African art. Maybe they mean Scandanavian Art? British Art? The art of Eastern Europe?

    Jesus….Brooklyn, honey, what are you doing?!

  55. This is unacceptable and irresponsible of this museum! A White person in charge of curating African art, deciding what should or should not be in the museum. I am disgusted! Truly disgusted!

  56. I echo the sentiments of all the others here questioning and protesting that you have two caucasian people curating African art???!!! This is unacceptable! Though these two people may do their work well, surely you can find equally strong African American people who better represent the art and understand their experiences firsthand! Please correct this!

  57. Drew deserves an apology. He and his reputation are being tarnished unfairly across social media platforms because of how poorly the headline was written. His hiring is completley unrelated to Kristen Windmuller-Luna’s more problematic hiring.

    Bad grammar in delicate editorial matters has consequences. Proofread your work, correct your mistakes, and apologize.

  58. Here are my thoughts:

    1. SRSLY???

    2. This is sooo not like hiring some dude from Cincinatti to head up a collection on Ancient Greece or a girl from China to curate Colonial art.

    The African American experience in America is fraught since the early colonial days, since those first slave ships hoved into port, through slavery and Jim Crow and segregation and Civil Rights and every time a kid gets stopped or shot by a cop for buying a pack of Skittles.

    3. Not one qualified person of color applied?

    Look harder.

    No really? Then that’s a fkn travesty and we need to do some serious soul searching and resource reshuffling and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    4. But then again the Brooklyn Museum is super controversial — remember the Virgin Mary drawn in elephant shit paintings? So maybe this is one big instillation – a commentary – satire. A social experiment.

    5. I wonder how the African American community feels about this?

    6. Overt racism this is not. This is not foaming at the mouth White Nationalism. But quietly institutionalized rationalized racism? You tell me.

    7. I’m NO a person of color. I’m a Jew who was once a minority in America and is now part of the majority in Israel, but from where I sit and from what I see, this is exactly what White Privilege looks like.

    1. This black woman agrees with you 100%. So many of us are saying the same things. This conversation is making it’s rounds. SMH!

    2. Can’t believe all the racist bullshit in these comments. This woman has a PhD and all you can do is look at her skin color????????????
      So she should never get a job because she’s white? Do you realize how hypocritical and stupid all of you sound?

      shameful.

      “Windmuller-Luna received her Ph.D. and M.A. from Princeton University and her B.A. from Yale University. She most recently held the position of Mellon Collections Research Specialist (African Arts) at the Princeton University Art Museum, where she curated the 2018 installation Changing the Conversation: African Interventions. Previously, she has worked at several art museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015-2016 Sylvan C. Coleman and Pam Coleman Fellow), the Princeton University Art Museum, the Neuberger Museum of Art, and the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation (exhibition curator, Life in Miniature: Asante Goldweights and African Sculpture from the Collection of the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation). She appeared in the 2017 PBS series Africa’s Great Civilizations, and lectures on African arts regularly at the Met.”

  59. In Brooklyn, NY you couldn’t find ONE qualified person of African descent? GTFOH! The city is overflowing with black people and they get these two to Re-imagine? This is SO wrong. It’s infuriating. How the devil are they going to IMAGINE? That’s all they CAN do. No lived experience? No perspective other than the dominant culture. Is that the point? African Art as IMAGINED by the white perspective? (as it always is.) Yeah. Real authentic. Thanks for the insult Brooklyn Museum. You’re awful.

  60. “Most of the stuff you see in a museum,is from the collection of thieves. Only a thief of this level will have the connections to thieves of that level.”……. this is not my quote but it needed to be shared on here……

  61. If it’s not bad enough that the majority of the 6000 pieces of African art were more than likely stolen or taken by white people. Its a done deal that changing the programs and photography be Overseen by white people rather than Afican people. Brooklyn museum thanks for sharing the truth and shaming what every other race has witnessed and lived due to your continued privilege and Audacity!

  62. ..because OBVIOUSLY Becky and Braden are the very BEST experts on African art that anybody could find in New York City, where there are of course no black people at all who have degrees in art history with concentrations in African art, because of course. Get it the fk TOGETHER, fellow yt people, and LET PEOPLE TELL THEIR OWN GODDAMN STORIES. #WhiteNonsense

  63. Booo dammit Boooooooo! How about investing in People of color instead of hiring TWO people outside of it?

  64. Yeah super cool to have two of the whitest looking people ive ever seen curating the african art museum. You should absolutely retract this hiring. what the hell. white supremacist art institution.

    FOH

  65. “Correction: The author reported the name of Kristen Windmuller-Lunas incorrectly. This has been corrected.’
    Wrong in the correction!
    On top of that, your misrepresentation of the hires as both being curators for African arts has unleashed a firestorm on social media. You should apologize.

  66. I guess this makes sense, seeing as how gentrified Brooklyn itself has become. It is hard to believe not only these two are your best picks but that your entire staff is almost entirely white too.

  67. Surely you must be joking. There were no Black folks anywhere in the entire world that could have been hired to curate and tell the stories of their ancestors? This is ridiculous. Do better, y’all.

  68. So basically y’all are judging ppl based on their race, and not on the content of thier character.

      1. You’re joking, right? It takes about 5 seconds to google “Kristen Windmuller-Luna.” Go ahead and do that, then come back here and let us know what you found.

  69. For all the offended “white people” commenting, imagine if the museum hired a man to curate the content about women, or if a woman was hired to curate the content about men, how would that make you feel?

    1. LOL! What?? Its a museum, anybody can work/curate any section of it. You might be surprised to know that it depends on qualifications, skills and experience, not race and gender.

    2. I’m as feminist as they come, and if there was a male SCHOLAR who was academically qualified and whose experience would make him the best choice for curating a collection of female artists, I would have zero problem with that. I would certainly trust him more than some woman off the street who had no qualifications other than a vagina.

      I understand why people are upset about this, and the optics are pretty appalling, but it’s abundantly clear that the majority of commenters here who are saying “couldn’t they just find two black people??” know absolutely nothing about museums, curation, and academic research. I don’t think it’s right or fair to say that academics should only be allowed to study their own heritage.

  70. Wow this is wrong and disgusting…How can a white person claim to be any type of expert in AFRICAN subjects. Its nice you wanted to study that at school and all but it doesn’t look OR sound right at all. Shame on Brooklyn Museum when there are tons of brilliant black men and women who actually live and breath the culture let alone studied it in school. Wow

  71. I guess the Brooklyn museum has No qualified African American or African to curate this wing. How shameful.

  72. Apparently the commenters think it’s important that we return to a time where it’s OK to restrict people from certain jobs based on their skin color. These people learned nothing from slavery or Jim Crow. Also, having a certain amount of melanin in your skin gives you some sort of special understanding of “African” culture, despite the fact that Africa is a huge continent with countless peoples, cultures, languages, traditions etc that are all wildly different from one another. Imagine if a white person thought that their skin color somehow qualified them to work in European history. Fucking crazy.

    So in summary, race based job discrimination is A-OK as long as it’s at the expense of white people.

    Also, it’s illegal to refuse to turn someone down for a job based on their skin color.

    1. No one is ‘returning to a time where its OK to restrict people from certain jobs based on their skin color’. #MAGA is in full effect. Nothing is done ‘at the expense of white people’. Just because an amendment was signed doesn’t mean that systemic racism disappeared. No one is saying to turn them down because they are white – the point was that curation is someone inserting their viewpoint of how a story should be told. Given the history of colonization in Africa, it appears culturally tone deaf to hire a white woman to curate how the continent is represented in Brooklyn Museum. She’s an Ivy League graduate that’s awesome for her and I am sure this is one of many opportunities she received.

      No one stated they should drag a random person with a certain amount of melanin in to do this job. I’m not sure who ‘these people’ or what they were supposed to ‘learn’ from Jim Crow other than the fact that there are large groups of white people that think Black people are sub-human and should be limited in their access to the American Dream.

      There are qualified people of African descent who could have been recruited for this role. In the same way considerations are made to increase the representation of women in leadership in the workforce, a museum situated in a borough at the center of gentrification this appointment confirms what many consider the white-washing of African History as it is presented in America. No one said refuse her the job – they could have selected someone else.

      Funny how it is widely accepted that people are discriminated based on the color of the skin – but the minute it is suggested that racial background be considered when it is directly related to the role it is considered illogical. I think it makes sense for the head of the European History department to be of European descent. I agree with the head of the Women and Gender Studies department to identify as a woman. The sentiment on this thread makes plenty of sense.

  73. This is absolutely shameful! Were there no qualified Africans/people of African descent who could been hired? Absolute tone-deafness on the part of your hiring team. I know which museum I will NOT be visiting on my next trip to Brooklyn.

  74. Move ALL events from the museum immediately!
    Go to Studio Museum of Harlem.
    No more First Saturdays!

  75. I’m not going to a museum that participates in shitty, racist politics in the name of a legitimate community. The director, Anne Pasternak, was hired in 2015 (height of gentrification times!) and is also white. Here’s the Director’s Twitter: @annepasternak. Call: 718.638.5000. Email information@brooklynmuseum.org . Let’s change this.

  76. Hello, rationale person here.
    OK so firstly wouldn’t it depend on who applies for the job? If no black people apply, then what can you do? You can’t force people to apply and you can’t just hire any Joe Bloggs (also, hiring people from Africa seems somewhat extreme and that’s also not an easy task).

    Secondly, wouldn’t it then depend on their qualifications? You hire the best people, its that simple. You don’t hire people based on race and gender because that’s discrimination.

    So in short, most of the people commenting here think only black people should curate the African history section in a museum. So does that mean only white people can curate European history? So only Asian people can curate the Asian section? Only Chinese people can curate the Chinese section? Etc…Wouldn’t that mean that black people would end up with limited work within a museum? Only allowed to curate African history.

    Many of you are literally saying these two people can’t work in this job/section because they are white. That is discrimination and racism.
    I think you should all take a deep pause and think about that for a minute. Now reverse that scenario and imagine the international outrage that would follow.

  77. Perhaps everyone involved in this decision should go to Black Panther. And if they still don’t get it, rewatch Black Panther. Again and again.

    Find someone with African roots and experience to do this job.

  78. How does this still happen in 2018? Who is writing to complain and object? Commenting here isn’t changing much. Write letters! You do remember how to write . . . don’t you? Right? So stop reading this and go write!

  79. Why in the hell was a Caucasian hired as curator for African/African-American art???? I am NOT buying into the BS that “no qualified Black person” applied for, and was qualified for the job. Very disrespectful. I am disgusted!!!!

    1. Yes that’s right, a major museum in ultra liberal NY deliberately hired white people just to upset the entire African American community. Clearly that was their entire intention because they are all dastardly supervillains.

  80. There’s a FB group called the “Nigeria Nostalgia Project – Pre Nigeria discussion” – where you can learn things that are new discoveries; this is a shocking development as a known museum hires a couple of “interns” to curate African history.

    There’s a famous bronze frieze depicting an Oba (King) of Benin with “mudfush legs”. This was commonly thought to depict his relationship with the sea, as he was known to have attended school in portugal before anything like the slave trade ever started; Indeed Benin wasn’t a participant in the trade due to a belief drawn on superstition that people who had gone to “Portugal” after him but who hadn’t been seen by him had been sacrificed at sea.
    Anyway it turns out that the frieze image was of his uncle who when he was king was a paraplegic.
    In a hundred years of trying the two new curators would never be able to dispense this sort of information interpreting artifacts such as these and Im no professional historian or curator.
    The other day I went to the MET and watched a docent describe 1/10th of what the Queen Idia hip ornament mask was about.
    Museums are going the way of zoos, out of touch pointless steeples to a racist past; here’s the British Museum holding forth on Benin and Benin Art, an exercise they go through so they can convince themselves of the relevance of their theft of these people’s artifacts:

    https://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/KingdomOfBenin_StudentsWorksheets.pdf

  81. A straight up BECKY!!
    How old is this chick? I want to see her CV!!!
    What qualifies her for this position? Some Yale Bullsh*t degree!

    I’m not ageist but I can’t imagine she’s even seasoned enough for the job.

    There’s a grown a** scholar of African descent out there with YEARS, probably DECADES of experience out there who NEEDS and DESERVES this position.

    So disappointed. I hope they reverse this and get some sense.

    1. Rest assured that you don’t have to imagine anything about how qualified she is because you’re not interviewing her.

      You should find that African scholar and tell them to apply next time.

  82. I totally understand why people are upset.

    That said… I think it’s a pretty messy, slippery slope to suggest that curators or researchers can only specialize in a field that reflects their own personal background.

    I am a white (Jewish) woman who was working on my PhD in art history for three years before changing careers. And my research was primarily in the traditional arts of Africa, Precolumbian America, and Oceania… I spent a while fascinated with Yoruba beadwork in particular, because it’s fascinating. I wasn’t studying this stuff for any other reason than that I really love the subject – NOBODY goes through the massive work to get a PhD for something that they don’t personally admire. And the point in curation – particularly with tribal art – is to tell the story of the tribe, from the point of view of that tribe as much as possible. It’s about getting museum visitors to be just as excited about this subject that you love.

    Anyway, I couldn’t agree more that the ideal person to present African art is a person of African descent. But the reality is that right now, art history is a really, really white field. That can and should change and I hope it does. In the meantime, I know horrible it sounds on paper, but I think a white person who has studied this subject in detail is more qualified than a black person who hasn’t. (I mean, I’m Jewish, but it’s laughable to think that I have the knowledge to curate a world-class collection of historic Judaica.) I have no idea who else was considered for this job, but I have to think that the Brooklyn Museum, despite being blind to what this looks like from the outside, hired the person they thought could bring the most knowledge to the exhibits.

    Anyway, these comments have been really educational and eye opening, because when I was studying those fields, I didn’t really consider that it would be considered so hurtful to a lot of people. Thank you for opening my eyes. But I also hope that more people understand that if this woman has the degrees she does, it’s because she deeply loves this subject.

    1. You’re making an assumption that there are no black or african curators that are qualified for this position. Reeks of white privilege and superiority.

      1. If it turns out that there was a person of African descent who had the same qualifications, and was overlooked for the position, I will feel very differently and will join the outrage. If that is the case, I hope that person comes forward!

        I’m speaking from my experience in doctoral/post-doctoral level art history… it’s not a diverse work force right now. That’s just the reality, and I genuinely hope it changes. But if you quickly google Kristen Windmuller-Luna’s experience, it’s extensive. She knows what she’s doing in this field, and her own skin color is irrelevant when curating the traditional African arts, which is what this collection is. If it was Contemporary African-American art, I think that would be a different conversation.

  83. Oh, please. They are curators. They know, have studied and understand African art and photography. What evidence is there that in 2018 they are coming to “whitewash?”

    This becomes a real story if a qualified person of color who felt they were arbitrarily rejected for the job steps forward. I will then join you in umbrage. Otherwise, please save the outrage for something tangible.

  84. Haven’t we gotten enough MISINFORMATION from white people about black everything! No thanks!

  85. I attended the very first Stonewall Anniversay March in June of 1970 on Christopher Street, so this sounds mighty intetesting!

    Rick
    San Francisco

    “Sawyer is also a co-organizer of the upcoming historical survey Art after Stonewall, 1969 to 1989 which will tour during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 2019.”

  86. Really? Two more crackers to dictate African art, really bk museum? You think you’d learn from the recent past and try to make positive changes instead of the same old systemic bullshit. Gross. You should be ashamed of yourselves, but wait, I’m sure you’re an all white board making these decisions, maybe start changing with the times?

    1. One of those crackers is the curator of the photography collection. Not the African photography collection. “The Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator of Photography” is his title. That’s from the article.

      The headline is terrible, even in the corrected form. Dude is getting a lot of hate for something that isn’t his deal here. He’s in charge of all photography in the museum, which may have some African items along the way, but I’m sure he’s not the only one working on those wings or exhibits or parts of the collection.

      And while I’m not sure if some of the wording associated with her position and goals comes from her, the museum, or a clumsy interpretation from the reporter, I still wonder about her appointment. It may be okay or not, but it’s definitely not a great look.

  87. If I may speak to some of the folks on this thread who wrote that if they have the education and experience that they should be able to curate according to their background:

    this isn’t just about white people curating black art, this is also about the active exclusion of black scholars from art history degree programs and curatorial positions. This issue is much larger and broader than just who studied what, for how long, their experience, their knowledge, etc. It’s also about who GETS to study what – access and privilege are everything. Take a look at the numbers at museums in the USA: POC make up very small percentages of administrative (read: curatorial, development, education, etc.) jobs but large percentages of security and guest services. It’s about so much more than the objects in the collections – it’s also about POC seeing themselves represented (and by proxy, their values, history, etc. represented) in positions of power (like who decides to display what), not to mention in paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other objects. You can read more here: https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/racial-ethnic-diversity-limited-in-art-museum-staffs-survey-finds and also here: https://bigthink.com/Picture-This/does-the-art-world-have-a-demographics-problem

  88. So, we learned nothing from the museum scene in Black Panther, huh?… (Please see the PhD having scholar from Compton knew more about the artifacts than the curator. Also note the greedy colonist descendant knew who to ask about the African artifact he was seeking)

    1. Oh my God that is a Marvel comicbook movie -_-
      BP isn’t real, its not a real part of your history.
      The entire BP world was created by two white men in 1966 (shock horror!).

  89. This is probably Andrea’s biggest story of her career. Sorry sis that Brooklyn Museum did this too you. We understand that you’re just the messenger.

    Anna Pasternak, I’m still waiting for your explanation of the reasoning behind this decision. DM on twitter. You know who I am.

  90. The headline of the article is pretty terrible. It looks like they’re doing the same job: “Photography and African Art”. As a result, those who didn’t read the article saw that and two white people and made some easy assumptions. A few more words would have alleviated that. Or a few fewer. Just say “two new curators” if you can’t be clear about their positions in the limited space of a headline.

    After reading the article more than once, I can see that his job is about ALL the photos in the museum. Or one collection. Not having visited, I can’t entirely be sure. But the collection name suggests (but doesn’t prove conclusively) that the photo collection would be more than those of African-Americans or Africans.

    Her job, on the other hand, it getting much criticism both for the wording associated with what she intends to/is charged to do with the African art collection AND her race. I’m not sure how much of the wording comes from the writer of this piece and how much comes directly from the museum’s press release, but I can say there are a lot of people who would love to see the reporter’s notes and correspondence regarding the appointment.

    It may be some clumsy writing on a reporter’s part or very poor PR releases from the museum, but SOMEONE should answer some questions at some point. It may be a good idea to clarify these things.

  91. The text below was posted in a Facebook group in response to this article and all the outrage registered there. This is the account of a woman who put in a phone call to the museum to register her concerns over the appointment. It probably won’t make anyone feel better about the situation, but it’s an explanation (however unsatisfying):

    “Heard back from the Brooklyn Museum. Long, cordial conversation with the poor woman who has to make all these calls. She is also a POC (non-Black, I think) who was not happy with the decision, but after talking to her bosses this morning who addressed it with the office, she says she felt better. But it is basically what we thought. Lots of qualified African American candidates. “This is the person who said yes.”
    I asked if that means they actually offered it to AA candidates and were turned down. She said she wasn’t sure. They don’t have a big budget (I know this is true for museums…) – this is a part-time job. They are trying to establish a permanent gallery of African Art. The job search was a year-long process.
    Curators must have Ph.D.s. there are only 2 Ph.D.s in African Art given out a year, according to her. When it is given to a POC, they are snatched up by institutions with a lot more money than the museum. In her words, “They’re paid what they deserve by prestigious institutions.”
    I wanted also to know how hard they tried to find qualified AA candidates. Did they reach out to the Art departments of HBCUs, etc? Did they contact the Assoc. of African American Museums? She didn’t know the answer to that either.
    I told her gently (because she was sympathetic and also a POC) but firmly that I still had concerns I hoped she’d convey to her bosses. I wondered how much money they’d spent on the David Bowie exhibit (she didn’t know) and made the point that priorities need reorganizing, maybe, if they couldn’t afford to offer a new curator a good enough salary to attract an African American (or African, for that matter) applicant. Maybe it’s hard to live on a low, part-time salary in Brooklyn, NY. If the only one who could accept that job was a white person with a Ph.D. in art history, is that not the HEIGHT of white privilege?”

  92. Leaving the controversy of whether it’s acceptable to hire a white male to curate international photography at the Brooklyn Museum, the real question is whether the color of a person’s skin should play any role in whether they are worthy to oversee one of our nation’s oldest and finest collections of African art- art made sometimes centuries and sometimes only a few years ago by people of many faiths, ethnicities, homelands and complexions. While I would agree it would be politic to have a person of African descent head this important and underfunded department, doing so would be no guarantee that the stories of African art would be told effectively or accurately. A person’s DNA confers zero insight into culture- it barely even improves access. My ancestors may once have worshiped trees and rocks in Northern Europe and the Middle East but I have no more innate understanding of their practices or beliefs than an ethnic Ibo raised in Portland, London or Port Harcourt has of 16th Century Ethiopian icons. Ultimately there is no substitute for, experience in, study of and passion for the field. Windmuller-Luna has all that. Princeton doesn’t exactly hand out graduate degrees in art history. Let’s accept that she has worked long and hard and knows her stuff. Whether there were equally qualified applicants for this prestigious but low-paying position is another matter- regardless of ethnic identity.

  93. What is most confusing to me about all of this is that there is a general cry for us to remove the injustices of the past where white folks depressed black africans but we want the depressing stories to be loudly retold by black africans. We dont want it to continue but we dont want to forget it. But the current trend of removing whites from anything and everything that involves the story of blacks (a story which involved whites) will surely lead to the very same depression in reverse – white people becoming discriminated against and treated unfairly.

    In 2018 if we are moving toward inclusion and chipping away of racism and Black vs. White issues we have to look at areas where we are neutral which would mean education, experience, qualification and of course willingness and ability. If all those factors lie with a white person for a job that requires keeping the story alive for what happened to the black african (a story also involving whites – again I must add) then so be it.

    We cannot be guilty of the same injustice and discrimination that we are crying against. Its that simple.

    #BytheWayI’mBlack
    #JustWantToLiveAtPeaceWithEveryone
    #IfUInTouchWithMyPastTellItAtPresent

  94. This is so incredibly stupid and backwards to be offended by this. To say that a white person can’t be a curator of African art because of the color of their skin is frankly, racist. If a white American woman can’t curate the exhibit, why should any American be able to? It’s African art, not African-American art. To say that just because someone shares a skin color with a large part of Africans, that they can better represent them than anyone else is to stereotype Africans the wold over, and diminishes the identity of the cultures in Africa.

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