The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island Names Lau­ren Haynes Head Cura­tor and Vice Pres­i­dent for Arts and Culture


Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island and Gov­er­nors Island Arts announced today the hir­ing of Lau­ren Haynes as their new Head Cura­tor and Vice Pres­i­dent for Arts and Cul­ture — mark­ing an excit­ing step for­ward for one of New York City’s most unique cul­tur­al des­ti­na­tions. A world-renowned arts expert with decades of expe­ri­ence, Haynes comes to Gov­er­nors Island fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful stint as Direc­tor of Cura­to­r­i­al Affairs and Pro­grams at the Queens Museum.

New York City remains the glob­al cap­i­tal for the arts, a haven for cul­tur­al expres­sion, and the home of the best and bright­est tal­ent from around the globe. With Lau­ren Haynes join­ing Gov­er­nors Island, New York City is prov­ing that our rep­u­ta­tion still stands true,” said New York City May­or Eric Adams. Lau­ren brings decades of expe­ri­ence that will only ele­vate the ongo­ing work at Gov­er­nors Island and open new, excit­ing doors. I wel­come her to the team and look for­ward to see­ing how she will trans­form Gov­er­nors Island into her own bold, vision­ary canvas.”

I am thrilled to join the team at The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island and Gov­er­nors Island Arts at this key moment in the organization’s tra­jec­to­ry,” said Lau­ren Haynes, Head Cura­tor and Vice Pres­i­dent for Arts and Cul­ture at the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. I look for­ward to devel­op­ing pro­gram­ming and work­ing with artists to cre­ate projects and exhi­bi­tions for New York­ers and every­one who vis­its our city.”

We are hon­ored to have a true vision­ary at the helm of our arts and cul­ture pro­gram­ming, and we wel­come Lau­ren Haynes to her new home at Gov­er­nors Island,” said Clare New­man, Pres­i­dent & CEO of The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. Our cul­tur­al offer­ings have grown sig­nif­i­cant­ly over the past five years, and Lau­ren is the best per­son to con­tin­ue our expan­sion as an arts des­ti­na­tion for both New York­ers and vis­i­tors from around the globe. We look for­ward to wel­com­ing the pub­lic to enjoy her inno­v­a­tive, thought­ful pro­gram­ming selec­tions in the near future.”

As Gov­er­nors Island con­tin­ues to expand access to the arts through inno­v­a­tive and immer­sive pub­lic art projects, I am thrilled to have Lau­ren Haynes join the team as their new cura­tor,” said Deputy May­or for Hous­ing, Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment and Work­force Maria Tor­res-Springer. Lau­ren will bring new pro­gram­ming to a unique des­ti­na­tion in the mid­dle of New York Har­bor, fur­ther cement­ing our city’s sta­tus as a world-lead­ing cul­tur­al hub and sup­port­ing our efforts to diver­si­fy our workforce.”

Encom­pass­ing both New York’s sto­ried his­to­ry with a view­point direct­ed towards the future, Governor’s Island has grown into a trea­sured cul­tur­al resource for all New York­ers,” said Eri­ka Mallin, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the New York State Coun­cil on the Arts. On behalf of the staff and Coun­cil, con­grat­u­la­tions to Lau­ren Haynes. We all look for­ward to expe­ri­enc­ing your vision and tal­ents at this incred­i­ble destination.”

Gov­er­nors Island shows us the incred­i­ble pow­er of the arts to trans­form our city’s pub­lic spaces into vibrant sites for trans­for­ma­tive expe­ri­ences and com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment,” said NYC Cul­tur­al Affairs Com­mis­sion­er Lau­rie Cum­bo. With her deep expe­ri­ence in NYC’s arts com­mu­ni­ty and track record of vision­ary lead­er­ship, I can’t wait to see what Lau­ren Haynes can accom­plish in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the extra­or­di­nary team at Gov­er­nors Island.” 

Lau­ren Haynes will be an excep­tion­al addi­tion to Gov­er­nors Island, ush­er­ing in a new era of artis­tic pro­gram­ming,” said Man­hat­tan Bor­ough Pres­i­dent Mark Levine. Bring­ing her decades of vision­ary work in the arts, she will undoubt­ed­ly con­tin­ue to advance the Trust’s com­mit­ment to bold and inclu­sive arts initiatives.”

I’ve been so inspired to watch Gov­er­nors Island flour­ish as a hub for New York artists, and I know Lau­ren Haynes will con­tin­ue to grow and nur­ture the Island’s vibrant cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ty,” said State Sen­a­tor Andrew Gounardes. This sort of care and ded­i­ca­tion to the arts is more impor­tant than ever, and I’m grate­ful to the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island and Gov­er­nors Island Arts for their vision and leadership.”

Gov­er­nors Island, with its rich his­to­ry and evolv­ing cul­tur­al land­scape, con­tin­ues to assert its posi­tion as a cor­ner­stone of New York City’s artis­tic and pub­lic space inno­va­tion,” said Assem­bly­man Charles D. Fall. I con­grat­u­late Lau­ren on her new role and am con­fi­dent that under her guid­ance, Gov­er­nors Island will con­tin­ue to be a place where art and com­mu­ni­ty inter­sect in dynam­ic and mean­ing­ful ways.”

I extend my warmest con­grat­u­la­tions to Lau­ren Haynes as she leads the next phase of Gov­er­nor Island’s arts and cul­ture pro­gram­ming. Governor’s Island is a respite for New York­ers and vis­i­tors, offer­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty to enjoy world-class events and exhi­bi­tions in a unique­ly beau­ti­ful set­ting,” said Coun­cil Mem­ber Car­li­na Rivera (D‑02). As Chair of the Com­mit­tee on Cul­tur­al Affairs and Libraries, I look for­ward to work­ing togeth­er in coali­tion to keep New York City a bea­con for cre­ativ­i­ty and expression.” 

We’re delight­ed to hear that Lau­ren Haynes will join our Gov­er­nors Island com­mu­ni­ty as the new cura­tor for TGI’s Gov­er­nors Island Arts and bring her cre­ative vision to one of the most dynam­ic places in NYC. Since 2019, LMCC has pro­vid­ed artist res­i­den­cies and pub­lic pro­grams at our Arts Cen­ter as a key cul­tur­al part­ner to Island-based orga­ni­za­tions work­ing in sus­tain­abil­i­ty, edu­ca­tion and the arts. We extend a warm wel­come to Lau­ren from LMC­C’s vibrant com­mu­ni­ty of artists and inno­va­tors,” said Craig T. Peter­son, Pres­i­dent of Low­er Man­hat­tan Cul­tur­al Coun­cil (LMCC).

Dur­ing her time at the Queens Muse­um, Haynes was respon­si­ble for the over­all vision for the museum’s exhi­bi­tion pro­gram and super­vis­ing its exhi­bi­tions, pub­lic prac­tice, and com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment teams. Haynes has over­seen exhi­bi­tions and curat­ed projects includ­ing Tracey Rose: Shoot­ing Down Baby­lon (2023) and Car­o­line Kent: A short play about watch­ing shad­ows move across the room (2023). Haynes is also the co-cura­tor of Lyle Ash­ton Har­ris: Our first and last love, which will be on view at the Queens Muse­um in May.

Orig­i­nal­ly from East Ten­nessee, Haynes moved to New York City when she was 12 years old. In 2023, Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Biden appoint­ed Haynes to the Com­mit­tee for the Preser­va­tion of the White House, on which she cur­rent­ly serves. 

Pri­or to join­ing the Queens Muse­um, Haynes was the Pat­sy R. and Ray­mond D. Nash­er Senior Cura­tor of Con­tem­po­rary Art at the Nash­er Muse­um of Art at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty, where she curat­ed Beyond the Sur­face: Col­lage, Mixed Media and Tex­tile Works from the Collection (202223) and co-curat­ed The Pow­er of Por­trai­ture: Recent Acqui­si­tions (202223) and Reck­on­ing and Resilience: North Car­oli­na Art Now (2022).

From 2016 – 2021, Haynes was Direc­tor of Artist Ini­tia­tives and Cura­tor of Con­tem­po­rary Art at Crys­tal Bridges Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art and the Momen­tary in Ben­tonville, Arkansas. Haynes led the cura­to­r­i­al team for State of the Art 2020, which opened at Crys­tal Bridges and the Momen­tary in Feb­ru­ary 2020. Haynes’s cura­to­r­i­al projects at Crys­tal Bridges and the Momen­tary includ­ed Ken­ny Rivero: The Floor is Crooked (2021); Crys­tal Bridges at 10 (2021; co-cura­tor); Sarah Cain: In Nature (2021); Nick Cave: Until (202021; insti­tu­tion­al cura­tor); Crys­tals in Art: Ancient to Today (2019; co-cura­tor) and The Beyond: Geor­gia O’Keeffe and Con­tem­po­rary Art (2018; co-cura­tor). Haynes was the insti­tu­tion­al cura­tor for the first Unit­ed States pre­sen­ta­tion of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Pow­er when it trav­eled to Crys­tal Bridges in 2018. Haynes also led the devel­op­ment of the visu­al arts team and pro­gram at the Momen­tary (a satel­lite con­tem­po­rary art space of Crys­tal Bridges) pri­or to its open­ing in Feb­ru­ary 2020.

Before join­ing Crys­tal Bridges, Haynes spent near­ly a decade at The Stu­dio Muse­um in Harlem where she held mul­ti­ple posi­tions, includ­ing Asso­ciate Cura­tor for the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion. As a spe­cial­ist in con­tem­po­rary art by artists of African Descent, Haynes curat­ed dozens of exhi­bi­tions at the Stu­dio Muse­um and con­tem­po­rary art insti­tu­tions in New York. At the Stu­dio Muse­um, Haynes over­saw the care and col­lec­tion of the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion as well as acqui­si­tions and exhibitions.

As Asso­ciate Cura­tor, Per­ma­nent Col­lec­tion, for the Stu­dio Muse­um Haynes curat­ed four main space exhi­bi­tions, includ­ing Alma Thomas (2016; co-cura­tor); Speak­ing of Peo­ple: Ebony, Jet and Con­tem­po­rary Art (201415); Tren­ton Doyle Han­cock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Draw­ing (2015; insti­tu­tion­al orga­niz­er) and Stan­ley Whit­ney: Dance the Orange (2015). As an assis­tant cura­tor at the Stu­dio Muse­um, Haynes over­saw the Artist-in-Res­i­dence pro­gram in 2011-12, 2012 – 13 and 2013 – 14. She also curat­ed over a dozen exhi­bi­tions, includ­ing Car­rie Mae Weems: The Muse­um Series (2014), Kira Lynn Har­ris: The Block/​Bellona (201112), and Spi­ral: Per­spec­tives on an African-Amer­i­can Art Col­lec­tive (2011). At the Stu­dio Muse­um, Haynes co-curat­ed sev­er­al exhi­bi­tions, includ­ing Fore, the fourth dis­play of emerg­ing artists in the Stu­dio Museum’s ground­break­ing f” show series, which includes Freestyle, Fre­quen­cy, Flow and Fic­tions.

As part of her cura­to­r­i­al prac­tice, Haynes has authored and co-authored sev­er­al cat­a­logs, includ­ing Lyle Ash­ton Har­ris: Our first and last love; State of the Art 2020; The Beyond: Geor­gia O’Keeffe and Con­tem­po­rary Art; Alma Thomas, The Bear­den Pro­ject, Speak­ing of Peo­ple: Ebony, Jet, and Con­tem­po­rary Art and Stan­ley Whit­ney: Dance the Orange.

Haynes has par­tic­i­pat­ed in many pan­els and lec­tures about con­tem­po­rary art and artists. She has also lec­tured at venues around the Unit­ed States, includ­ing The Whit­ney Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art; The Brook­lyn Rail; Lamar Dodd School of Art; Arta­dia; and Texas State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Mar­cos. She has been a jurist for var­i­ous art prizes and exhi­bi­tions across the US, includ­ing the David C. Driskell Prize; the Out­win Boochev­er Por­trait Com­pe­ti­tion; Lyn­don House Arts Cen­ter; the Yeck Young Painters Com­pe­ti­tion; and Art­Prize. Haynes has writ­ten on lead­ing con­tem­po­rary artists includ­ing Jor­dan Cas­teel; Leonar­do Drew; Tren­ton Doyle Han­cock; Jen­nifer Pack­er; and Nari Ward. Haynes is on the board of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Art Muse­um Cura­tors and the AAMC Foun­da­tion and serves as Vice Pres­i­dent of Fundrais­ing. Haynes is on the vis­it­ing com­mit­tee for the Allen Memo­r­i­al Art Muse­um at Ober­lin Col­lege where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Haynes was a 2018 Cen­ter for Cura­to­r­i­al Lead­er­ship fel­low and a recip­i­ent of a 2020 Art­Table New Lead­er­ship Award. 

Since open­ing to the pub­lic in 2005, Gov­er­nors Island has become a beloved cul­tur­al resource for New York City. In an effort to expand arts pro­gram­ming, the Trust hired its first Head Cura­tor and Vice Pres­i­dent for Arts and Cul­ture Mered­ith John­son in 2016. Since then, the pro­gram has grown expo­nen­tial­ly in its offer­ings for Island vis­i­tors, artists, oth­er cul­tur­al prac­ti­tion­ers — includ­ing tem­po­rary and long-term pub­lic art com­mis­sions by artists includ­ing Rachel Whiteread, Susan Philip­sz, David Brooks, Jacob Hashimo­to, Shantell Mar­tin, Duke Riley, Richard Move, Sam Van Aken, Mark Dion, and Charles Gaines; an annu­al Orga­ni­za­tion in Res­i­dence pro­gram in the Island’s his­toric hous­es; and free pub­lic pro­grams and events in part­ner­ship with a wide range of cul­tur­al organizations. 

Gov­er­nors Island Arts presents its pro­gram with the vision­ary sup­port of the Ford Foun­da­tion, as well the Mel­lon Foun­da­tion, the Cha­ri­na Endow­ment Fund, Don­ald R. Mullen Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion, Stavros Niar­chos Foun­da­tion, Bloomberg Phil­an­thropies, The Gottes­man Fund, Don­ald A. Pels Char­i­ta­ble Trust, the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts, and the New York State Coun­cil on the Arts with the sup­port of the Office of the Gov­er­nor and the New York State Legislature.