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Brooklyn Talks: SENSATION with Arnold Lehman and Darren Walker

September 23, 2021

Thursday, September 23, 2021
7–9 pm EST
Brooklyn Museum (hybrid event: in-person and virtual)

Join Arnold Lehman, former director of the Brooklyn Museum, and Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, for a timely conversation about Lehman’s long-awaited book Sensation: The Madonna, the Mayor, the Media, and the First Amendment (2021). The book presents Lehman’s personal account of the controversy, which took place during his time as director and surrounded the lightning-rod exhibition SENSATION: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection (1999–2000). It details the Museum’s bitter fight with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and others. Artist Chuck Close said of the book, “Looking back at one of the most important contemporary exhibitions ever, Lehman's book is filled with the excitement and anxiety of the moment. I know, I was there.”

Two decades later, in a time of reckoning for institutions and as controversies increasingly shape the art and museum fields, the SENSATION exhibition takes on new resonance.

During this conversation, Walker and Lehman will discuss how this critical case study in First Amendment rights changed how we think about the issues of freedom of speech and artistic expression that continue to be debated today.

Tickets are $16 and include after-hours admission to The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time.

Tickets are free for Brooklyn Museum members and PEN America members. PEN America members should email arc@pen.org for a free discount code.

This program will include ASL interpretation. For access needs, please email access@brooklynmuseum.org

This program is presented in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum.

About the Speakers

Arnold Lehman

A bold and progressive museum director for over 40 years, Arnold Lehman has always advocated for freedom of expression, diversity, social justice, and accessibility. Under his guidance as director, over 500 exhibitions were presented at the Brooklyn Museum and, earlier, at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He served in major cultural leadership roles nationally and in New York City throughout his distinguished career. Lehman (M.A., Johns Hopkins University; M.Phil. and Ph.D., Yale University; DHL (Hon.) Pratt Institute) was a Ford Foundation Fellow and currently serves on numerous not-for-profit boards focused on culture, education, and social justice. He chaired the board of Legg Mason Funds, where he served as a director for 40 years; and is presently a trustee of funds in the Franklin Templeton complex. Since 2015, he is Senior Advisor at Phillips.

Darren Walker

Darren Walker is the president of the Ford Foundation, an international social justice philanthropy. He is a member of the Reimagining New York Commission and the co-chair of NYC Census 2020. Prior to joining Ford, Walker was Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs. Darren serves on a number of boards including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art, Carnegie Hall, the High Line, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. Walker has been named on many leadership lists, including Time’s annual 100 Most Influential People, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Ebony’s Power 100, and Out magazine’s Power 50. 

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