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Masum Momaya, Before and After "Beyond Bollywood"

Working from the premise that an exhibition is not "finished" when it opens its doors to the public and that audiences can also be cited as collaborators, Smithsonian Curator and Curatorial Intensive Alumna Masum Momaya reflects on her curatorial practice, using the exhibit Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation as a jumping off point. The show––on view through August 15, 2015 at the National Museum of Natural History––explores the cultural, political, and professional contributions of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in shaping U.S. history.

For her talk, recorded at the ICI Curatorial Hub in New York on April 24th, 2014, Momaya discusses crowdsourcing and open calls for submission as cornerstones of her curatorial practice in a staid institution, training community members (some of whom contest exhibition narratives) to be docents, and condemning longstanding orientalism in museum legacy.

Masum Momaya is Museum Curator at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program in Washington, DC. She also served as Curator at the International Museum of Women (2007–09), Curator for the (AWID) Association for Women’s Rights in Development (2009–12), and Curatorial Consultant for the Indo-American Heritage Museum (2010–11). Academically, Momaya is trained as an interdisciplinary social scientist, with a PhD in Human and International Development from Harvard University, an MA in Education from Harvard University, and an honors BA in Public Policy and Feminist Studies from Stanford University.


Independent Curators International (ICI)


Independent Curators International (ICI) produces exhibitions, events, publications, and training opportunities for diverse audiences around the world. A catalyst for independent thinking, ICI connects emerging and established curators, artists, and institutions, to forge international networks and generate new forms of collaboration. Working across disciplines and historical precedents, the organization is a hub that provides access to the people, ideas, and practices that are key to current developments in the field, inspiring fresh ways of seeing and contextualizing contemporary art. Headquartered in New York, ICI is a small non-profit with a large purview. Over the last 35 years, ICI has produced 118 traveling exhibitions and profiled the work of more than 3,700 artists, working with 621 museums, university art galleries, and art centers in 48 states and 29 countries worldwide, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan. Experienced by nearly 6 million people, the exhibitions and events have attracted extensive local, national, and international press, and are placed in a critical framework through accompanying catalogues and books published by ICI.