Marla C. Berns

Marla C. Berns Ph.D is an independent scholar and curator, and is the Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director Emerita of the Fowler Museum at UCLA (2001 – 2021). Her publishing and curatorial work has concentrated on women’s arts of Northeastern Nigeria. Berns organized the first solo traveling museum exhibition of Magdalene Odundo’s new vessels in 1995 (Ceramic Gestures) when she was Director of the University Art Museum at UCSB (1991-2001). At the Fowler she was lead curator of the international traveling exhibition co-organized with the musee du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Central Nigeria Unmasked: The Arts of the Benue River Valley (2011), and was co-editor and contributing author of the award-winning publication. Berns was also project director of the international traveling exhibition and book project, Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths (2018). To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, she wrote the book, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA (2014). In 2013 Berns received the medal of chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic. She received the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) Leadership Award for lifetime achievement in 2021.