Yesomi Umolu has been appointed director of curatorial affairs and public practice for London’s Serpentine Galleries, the institution announced today. Umolu is the first person to occupy the newly created position; in her role, she will spearhead the development of editorial and educational content for exhibitions, events, and other curatorial initiatives.
Umolo is expected to take up her post in January 2021; the native Londoner is currently director and curator at the Logan Center Exhibitions at the University of Chicago, where she additionally lectures on contemporary visual art and spatial practices. A 2016 recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts Curatorial Fellowship, Umolu served as artistic director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennale, and has worked as a curator at East Lansing, Michigan’s MSU Broad Museum and Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center, among other institutions.
“With an excellent record of commissioning interdisciplinary programming, Yesomi brings outstanding ideas and experience to the Serpentine,” said CEO Bettina Korek and artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist in a joint statement. “Yesomi’s appointment reinforces a structural trajectory for the organization that fuses curatorial affairs and public practice. We are excited to work with her to innovate around centering audience experience and community engagement in all that we do.”
The Serpentine, which earlier this year was one of a handful of UK cultural organizations to meet Arts Council England’s diversity targets, created the new position in an effort to make the institution’s physical and digital programming more inclusive and accessible to all audiences.
“I have long admired the Serpentine Galleries’ groundbreaking work in supporting innovative ideas across contemporary art, architecture, and civic engagement,” said Umolu in a statement. “I am eager to partner with the Serpentine’s team, its audiences and artists to envision new forms of creativity and community building that can shepherd us through the profound changes facing our city and the world at large.”