Ramona Austin has over three decades of professional experience in the arts and arts education.
Currently Ms. Austin is Senior Curator for the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries at Old Dominion University, a major repository of self-taught art in the United States, as well as a consultant in the museum field.
From 2001 to 2004, she was the Director of Hampton University Museum and Archives, among the nation’s leading Historic Black Colleges and Universities and a foremost national art and archival resource for African American art and history. As museum director, Ms. Austin was also the responsible publisher of The International Revue of African American Art. At The Art Institute of Chicago (1987-1994), she was Associate Curator for African Art, and at the Dallas Museum of Art (1994-2001), The Margaret McDermott Associate Curator for African Art.
At both institutions her position initiated the first full-time curatorship for her field. Ms. Austin during her tenure at these museums was responsible for the acquisition of world-class works of African art that grew and elevated the institutional collections. Austin has also worked closely with museum education throughout her career producing award winning work, significantly the Chicago Art Institute video, The World Began at Ile Ife, for the seminal exhibition, Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, organized by the Museum for African Art in New York. Her exhibitions have spanned both African and African-American art and includes original work and collection reinstallations.
Her academic interests bridge an expertise in the arts of the Kongo peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) among whom she accomplished two years of fieldwork as a Fulbright scholar, to the African diaspora in the Americas, and to African American self-taught and contemporary art. She has also been a recipient of the Belgian American Educational Foundation Fellowship for doctoral research in the archives and collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa; and received a Smithsonian Fellowship for pre-doctoral research at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is published nationally and internationally in the fields of African art and African American self-taught art as well as cultural studies. Ramona Austin is PhD (ABD) from Yale University in African Art.
Austin has lectured extensively on African art, African retentions in African American art, the artistic traditions of the African Diaspora and African American self-taught art. As a seasoned museum professional, Austin has also been called upon to lecture on the efficacy of multi-disciplinary education that uses the arts as an instructional tool. In these areas of expertise, she has lectured extensively across the United States in major museums and institutions of higher learning.