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Nancy Lane, the Art Collector of Studio Museum in Harlem, Dies at 88

With the last breath in a Manhattan home, Nancy Lane finally decides to part from this world. It is with a burdening soul that the Studio Museum didn’t get the chance to fully say goodbye to Lane in her abrupt passing. She would often support Black artists in the Studio Museum and promote their work to the local community.

Being the founder of the trustees’ acquisitions committee, Lane rented a loft on upper Fifth Avenue so that artists of different backgrounds could share their masterpiece to the local community. The museum later got recognized as a Black or Hispanic institution and 300 works were included in her museum collection. At the time of the 70s, Lane proved to be a remarkable woman because she was able to work with big companies like Chase and Johnson & Johnson despite her racial background. At the Chase Manhattan Bank, she worked in executive recruitment. She later became vice president of personnel for New York City’s Off-Track Betting Corporation. At Johnson & Johnson, Lane became the first Black woman to join the internal management board. Lane then retired in 2000.

After serving as a project manager in the National Urban League, Lane created a Black Executive Exchange Program to connect historically Black colleges with mentoring corporate managers. Lane has been a long time supporter of the arts and has brought opportunities for Black people to showcase their artistic abilities, including Xenobia Bailey, Rashid Johnson, and Hank Willis Thomas.

In an interview, Lane said that the Studio Museum, “has been a powerful force in the transformation of the global art world, launching and furthering the careers of hundreds of artists of African descent and exposing generations of audiences to powerful experiences with art and artists.”

Alvin Hall, one of the chairmans of MoMA’s Black Arts Council, said, “Art also lifted Nancy’s spirit. She said of a large photograph that she hung at the foot of her bed, ‘When I wake up in the morning, I want to see a strong Black woman.’ That daily uplift was what art gave Nancy. And she gave it back by steadfastly supporting many artists and museums.”

Lane was very passionate about exploring African roots and storytelling through each brushstroke. She continued advocating for other artists in the later years, including Mark Bradford, Awol Erizku, Sam Gilliam, Wangechi Mutu, and Lorna Simpson.

The energy and drive that Lane dedicates to the arts will be strongly missed, but there’s an undeniable hope that her work will continue to inspire art collectors out there to explore the narratives in the art that people of color create.


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