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Silvia Forni
Senior Curator of Global Africa at Royal Ontario Museum


Dr. Silvia Forni is Senior Curator of Global Africa in the ROM’s Department of Art & Culture. She oversees the large African collection, and is responsible for the permanent and rotating display of African artworks in the Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and the Asia Pacific.

Since joining the ROM in 2008 Silvia has curated and co-curated several partial gallery reinstallations and exhibitions. Her most recent exhibition projects have been Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art (2018), which traveled to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; Isaac Julien: Other Destinies (2017); Art. Honour and Ridicule: Asafo Flags From Southern Ghana (2016); and Worn: Shaping Black Feminine Identity (2014). From 2013 to 2018, together with Julie Crooks and Dominique Fontaine, she co-curated the Of Africa initiative, a multiplatform project aimed to support a sustained and long-term promotion of the cultural and creative diversity of Africa and its diaspora through an engagement with the collections in the museum and in dialogue with contemporary artists and creators. The spirit of the initiative continues to this day through a continuing commitment to acquisitions, programming, exhibitions, and internships.

Silvia's interest in African art concompasses both historical and contemporary works. Her research focuses on the significance of art both in local contexts and as part of exchange networks. She is interested in the tensions, dynamics, and feedbacks that inspire contemporary creators in Africa and the way art challenges the way Africa has been constructed in the Western imagination. She has conducted long term research in Cameroon and Ghana, and traveled extensively throughout the continent. More recently she has been focusing on the circulation and interpretation – both in scholarship and museum displays - of 20th century African art. She has also been working extensively with contemporary artists from the Continent and the diaspora and adding to the collection a number of contemporary artworks that defly and complicate academic and museolgical art taxonomies.

Silvia is also Associate Professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto where she teaches Anthropology of Material Culture, Ethnography of Africa and African Art. She has participated to numerous working groups and seminars. Since 2017 she co-led the Museum And Public History quadrant of the Mellon funded research project Aesthetic Education: A South-North Dialogue. She is a Fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, class of 2020. From 2015 to 2017 she was President of the Art Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA).