CORNING, N.Y. (February 20, 2017) The Rockwell Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is pleased to announce the new Smithsonian Speakers Series in 2017, exploring Diversity in American:  Modern Art, Contemporary Voices.  This program season at The Rockwell brings a series of exhibitions and special programs centered on the ever-changing and complex American experience. As the only conduit to Smithsonian resources in Upstate NY, The Rockwell has the opportunity to present nationally renowned experts from the Smithsonian network. 

Advance reservations are highly recommended. Rockwell Museum Members are free and not-yet-members are $10.  Students are $5. For advance reservations, please visit

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | 6 – 7 p.m.
Art & Activism in 21st Century America
Michelle Wilkinson, Curator, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Wilkinson will discuss artists with an activist agenda, including photographers Sheila Pree Bright and Ruddy Roye, both featured in her recently published book, For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People. In addition, she will highlight current collecting efforts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture to explore contemporary social movements.

Thursday, March 23, 2017 | 6 – 7 p.m.
Dismantling Diversity in Museums
Adriel Luis, Curator of Digital and Emerging Media, Asian Pacific American Center

While museums have recently embraced concepts of diversity, the practice behind their programs continue to uphold Western perspectives rooted in colonization and capitalism. As a result, diversity has become incorrectly understood as mere representation in the product, rather than true incorporation of the concept. Curator Adriel Luis introduces how his team at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center is rethinking traditional museum approaches through its community-curated model of “culture labs.”

Thursday, April 6, 2017 | 6 – 7 p.m.
First Voice: Latino Representation at The Smithsonian
Eduardo Díaz, Executive Director, Smithsonian Latino Center

Despite rapidly shifting demographics and a continued rise in the number of educated and experienced women and individuals of color entering the museum field, the history, culture, and contributions of communities of color and women are not equitably represented in our institutions. Museums have long served as trusted custodians of our cultural patrimony and as essential storytellers. However, the contributions of Latinos in nation building and shaping national culture are largely missing from our museums’ walls and related programs.  Exacerbating the situation is the underrepresentation of minority groups in museum leadership that fuels implicit bias in everyday practice. Executive Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, Eduardo Díaz, will discuss the Smithsonian’s Latino Curatorial Initiative as an effective strategy for ensuring Latino presence in museums.

About the Speakers

Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ph.D. is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), where she works on projects related to contemporary black life. She is the co-curator of two inaugural exhibitions at the NMAAHC: A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond and A Century in the Making: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Wilkinson is also developing the museum’s collections in architecture and design.

Prior to NMAAHC, Wilkinson spent six years as Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. In that capacity, she curated over twenty exhibitions, including the critically-acclaimed A People’s Geography: The Spaces of African American Life, and two award-winning shows: For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People and Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists.

Wilkinson holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a Ph.D. from Emory University. From 1999-2002, she was an assistant professor of African American, Puerto Rican, and Caribbean literature at Bard College in New York. In 2002, Wilkinson entered the museum field seeking to fulfill her passion for the arts, writing, scholarly research, and public engagement. Since then, she has worked on exhibitions, publications, and public programs for the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Adriel Luis is a musician, poet, visual artist, curator, and coder from the California Bay Area. Adriel is currently based in Washington DC as the Curator of Digital and Emerging Media at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, where his team has been developing a series of “culture labs” as community-created alternatives to traditional museum exhibitions. He is also a founding member of the psychedelic spoken word collective iLL-Literacy, and moonlights on design projects with artists and non-profits. Adriel frequently travels, with particular interest in how digital space shapes global communities. Adriel can be found across online platforms as @DRZZL.

Eduardo Díaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, is a 34-year veteran of arts administration.  He is responsible for fulfilling the Center’s mission of enabling Latino presence at the Smithsonian by supporting curatorial positions, research, exhibitions, collections, public and educational programs, web/digital content, and publications that address the contributions of the Latino community in nation building and shaping our national culture.

Previously, Díaz was the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC), the largest Latino cultural center in the United States. Before joining the NHCC, Díaz operated a small consulting firm, serving arts organizations, local arts agencies, statewide advocacy organizations and community-based organizations, specializing in grant-making programs, business and strategic planning, cultural facilities planning and cultural and heritage tourism.

In 2001, Díaz co-founded the International Accordion Festival, a free outdoor music festival, in San Antonio. From 1989 to 1999, Díaz served as director of Cultural Affairs for the city of San Antonio, the municipality’s designated local arts agency. Díaz earned a law degree (1976) at the University of California, Davis, and a bachelor’s degree (1972) in Latin American Studies at San Diego State University. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese

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