The Dallas Museum of Art in Texas has named Gowri Natarajan Sharma as its new board president, making her the first person of color to chair the board in the institution’s 119-year history.
Sharma had been on the DMA’s board since 2017, and is currently a member of the acquisitions committee. In addition to her philanthropic endeavors at UNICEF’s North Texas chapter, the Texas Women’s Foundation, the Lamplighter School, and other institutions, she serves as an architectural adviser to her family’s business.
With an endowment of around $270 million, the DMA is one of the country’s biggest museums.
Many institutions of its caliber have made steps to diversify their boards following upheaval in the wake of the George Floyd’s murder in 2020.
The Art Institute of Chicago and the Walker Art Center were among those to name their first-ever Black board chairs in the year afterward. Denise Gardner, who currently chairs the Art Institute, is the first Black woman to lead a U.S. museum board.
These efforts have come as U.S. institutions have sought to attract a younger, more diverse set of patrons.
The DMA was among the many museums to experience tension and scrutiny between 2020 and 2021. Dallas Weekly reported in 2021 that a staff-led committee had begun calling for the museum to diversify its leadership positions.
On Wednesday, the Dallas Museum also said it had added to its board several new trustees. These include CBRE Group vice chairman Jeffrey S. Ellerman; Mary Kay chief marketing officer Sheryl Adkins-Green; Venugopal Menon, former vice president of technology at Texas Instruments; and Jun Il Kwun, founder and managing director of the Actium Group.