Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi

Curator of African Art

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi joined the museum in August 2017, bringing a unique combination of experience as a curator and practicing artist as well as his international academic training. From 2013 to 2017, Nzewi was curator of African art at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art, where he mounted a range of well-received exhibitions, including Eric van Hove: The Craft of Art (2016); Inventory: New Works and Conversations around African Art (2016); Ukara: Ritual Cloth of the Ekpe Secret Society (2015); and The Art of Weapons: Selections from the African Collection (2014). For the Hood he also acquired important works by established and emerging African artists such as Ibrahim El-Salahi, Lamidi Fakeye, Obiora Udechukwu, Owusu-Ankomah, Victor Ekpuk, Candice Breitz, and Nidhal Chamekh. Prior to working at the Hood, Nzewi was a fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

Nzewi has cocurated a variety of major international exhibitions, including the 2014 Dak’Art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal, the major platform for contemporary art in Africa. He also served on the curatorial team of the 11th Shanghai Biennale in 2016–17.

In addition to his curatorial work, Nzewi has taught at the Institute of African Studies, University of Bayreuth; Dartmouth College; and Emory University. He has lectured widely and given talks at academic institutions and museums such as the University of Cape Town, South Africa; Freie University, Berlin; Princeton University; Columbia University; Harvard University; University of Kentucky, Louisville; University of the Arts, Zurich; the de Young Museum of Art, San Francisco; and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. He coedited New Spaces for Negotiating Art (and) Histories in Africa (2015), a book on independent art spaces in Africa.

Nzewi holds a PhD in art history from Emory University; a postgraduate diploma from the African Program in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of Western Cape, South Africa; and a BA in fine and applied arts from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.