Ngaire Blankenberg is internationally recognized for her work planning innovative museums and revitalizing urban spaces. She is co-author, with Gail Lord, of Cities, Museums and Soft Power which urges museums to play a more vital role in creating equitable, inclusive and empowering cities. She is co-founder of the Museum of AIDS in Africa.
As European Director and Principal Consultant at Lord Cultural Resources, the world's largest museum and cultural professional practice, Ngaire advises museums, the private sector and governments on ways to develop their cultural assets for public benefit. Her recent projects include Çanakkale Children’s Centre in Turkey, NaMu Bayern Life Sciences Centre in Munich, Patna Science Centre in Bihar, India, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. She has been a youth worker, jazz poet, cartoonist, documentary-maker and television producer, and is the mother of two spectacular teens. She is South African-New Zealander-Canadian-British and lives in Barcelona.
If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?
A Wangechi Mutu collage, for the power to reimagine parts that appear fixed. Cliché to say- but Marina Abramović “The Artist is Present”- as a mother, a consultant, a middle aged woman- I need someone to see me, for real.
Who inspires you and why? An artist, a family member, someone current or historical?
Seeing art inspires me creatively- in fact just leaving the house, traveling. You can’t also underestimate the benefits of ‘downtime’ which I don’t have- to be inspired enough to affect my work (as opposed to being temporarily diverted or entertained) I need to be able to reflect. So actually long boring periods on the plane when I can’t watch bad movies, or waiting for flights to arrive or take off, or walking around is when I turn stuff I have seen into new, cool stuff.
What are your cultural aspirations? What do you still want to see, do and achieve?
Inclusion. Peace. Soft Power.
What are your favourite cultural cities in the world and why?
Johannesburg - can be hard to find the hottest things on-but once you do! Beirut - complicated, beautiful.