(New York, September 8, 2020)—The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today the appointment of Abraham Thomas as Daniel Brodsky Curator of Modern Architecture, Design, and Decorative Arts in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. In this newly established position, Thomas will be responsible for the broad fields of modern architecture, design, and decorative arts, which are now brought together in one role. Thomas will work with the department's curators—as well as colleagues with expertise in field of design arts across the Museum, including the American Wing, Drawings and Prints, European Sculpture and Decorative Art, and The Costume Institute, among others—to build and interpret The Met's collection.
"We are pleased to welcome Abraham to the curatorial faculty of the Museum," said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. "He brings with him vast and varied experience and expertise, as well as a proven enthusiastic embrace of collaboration using an innovative approach. Abraham will be a driving force for our rethinking of how we best present, contextualize and collect the intersections, commonalities, and joint ambitions of art, architecture and design."
"Abraham joins the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at a critical moment, as we develop vital new narratives around architecture and design—especially those that engage with a global context in dialogue with historical examples—drawing upon collections at The Met that are unparalleled in their scope and depth," noted Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. "We are eager to set to work re-envisioning a powerful program that fully integrates architecture and design into our display of the arts of the 20th and 21st century, using these practices as starting points for a new approach."
Abraham Thomas added: "I am thrilled and honored to join the talented team in the Modern and Contemporary Department at The Met, and to work under the leadership of Sheena Wagstaff. I'm excited to collaborate with colleagues within the Department and across the Museum."
For the past four years, Thomas has worked at the Smithsonian Institution, first as the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge of the Renwick Gallery, and most recently as Senior Curator at the Arts & Industries Building, in Washington, D.C.
Prior to joining the Smithsonian, he was Director of Sir John Soane's Museum, one of the UK's foremost historic house museums, where from 2013–2015 he oversaw a major restoration of Soane's interiors, initiated new programs with institutions—including MIT's School of Architecture and Planning and MIT Museum; The Architectural Association School of Architecture; the LSE Cities program at the London School of Economics; and the School of Art, Architecture and Design at London Metropolitan University—and developed collaborative commissions with contemporary artists and designers. Before then, Thomas was Curator of Designs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, from 2005 to 2013, where he was responsible for the V&A's Architecture Gallery and its strategic partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Abraham Thomas has published and lectured extensively on architecture, decorative arts, craft, graphic design and photography, with a research focus on the 19th-century to the present. At the V&A, his exhibitions included "Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary" (2012); the international touring exhibition, "Owen Jones: Islamic Design, Discovery and Vision" (2009–2011); and "1:1 – Architects Build Small Spaces" (2010), a site-specific exhibition which activated various public areas of the V&A with full-scale structures commissioned from emerging and mid-career international architectural practices. At the Smithsonian, he curated "Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018", part of a biennial series showcasing artists working within and on the periphery of craft; he helped to produce "Parallax Gap", an installation for the Renwick's Grand Salon created by the architectural studio, Freeland Buck; and he is the co-curator of a forthcoming major exhibition project at the Arts & Industries Building, which is planned for the centerpiece of the Smithsonian's 175th anniversary celebrations in 2021. As an independent curator, he co-curated "Superstructures: The New Architecture, 1960–1990" for the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in the UK (2018), the first comprehensive exhibition to examine the High-Tech movement within architecture and design.
September 8, 2020