We are thrilled to announce Brenda Tindal, Director of Education and Engagement at the International African American Museum, is the recipient of the Southeastern Museums Conference’s 2020 Museum Leadership Award. Initiated in 1994, this award recognizes mid-career museum professionals who have shown significant advancement within the profession by leadership in museum activities at his or her institution, within the museum profession as a whole, and especially in the Southeast region.
Brenda is an awarding-winning educator, scholar, and museum practitioner. She is a leader SEMC needs in this region now. Recently we have lost Civil Rights luminaries John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, as a keeper of the culture; Brenda not only embodies their legacies by the act of telling stories, but their activism and commitment to social change. Leaders like Brenda Tindal are poised to take museum curation out of the “institutions” and into the streets.
Brenda launched her career in the museum field in 2003 at the Levine Museum of the New South, in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was part of the curatorial team that developed Courage: The Carolina Story that Changed America, an exhibit on the region’s role in the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The exhibit was awarded the National Medal for Museum Service in 2005—the nation’s highest honor awarded to museums and libraries. In 2015, Brenda became the Levine’s first woman and African American, to serve as Staff Historian and Senior Vice-President of Research and Collections. In that capacity, she served as the lead curator and content developer on many exhibitions including K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace—considered one of the first rapid-response exhibits to place local and national community-law enforcement relations into historical and socio-cultural context. As part of the K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace project, she designed, lead, and implemented successful public programs and community initiatives, including the Breaking Bread Dinner & Dialogue series; the #KNOWCharlotte civic and corporate enrichment seminars; Listen UP! Charlotte mobile concert series and was a consultant on The Atlantic magazine’s 2017 Race + Justice Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Prior to joining the International African American Museum (IAAM), Tindal was the Director of Education at the Detroit Historical Society, where she oversaw the K-16 education initiatives, public programming, and provided organizational leadership in the areas of museum visitor experience and strategic engagement.
Brenda has received numerous awards, including a 2011 Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) fellowship at Princeton University—where she co-curated Your True Friend and Enemy: Princeton and the Civil War exhibit and served as a key researcher for the Princeton & Slavery project. She has served on boards and review panels, and provided consultation for the National Council on Public History, Institute of Museum and Library Service’s Museums for America grant program, Association of African American Museums (AAAM), American Association for State and Local History, Museums & Race, and Museums as Sites of Social Action (MASS), among other museum and non-profit organizations. Brenda recently served as the AAAM 2020 Virtual Conference Program Committee Chair.
Brenda is a consummate professional, treasured thought partner, and champion of the power of museums to be institutions of transformation. She is also a skilled curator and educator who brings her commitment and passion for scholarship to bear in each role she plays. Her impact on our field has been tremendous, and she is just getting started.